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Dr. Etame

Meet Arnold Etame, MD, PhD


"It's important to me that we are treating each patient based on the unique biology of their tumor."

Dr. Etame always planned on becoming a surgeon. He was intrigued by the challenge. But he never anticipated he’d be just as inspired by his patients.

During medical school, where he was exposed to both surgery and research labs, Dr. Etame found his passion in neurosurgery. More specifically, he developed a curiosity for the complexities surrounding malignant brain tumor treatment.

But it didn’t take long for him to become unsatisfied with the current standard approach.

“As an industry, we have been doing surgery for a very long time. But the outcomes hadn’t changed much – even though chemotherapy and radiation have improved. And a lot of that was because we focused on just the disease in terms of pathology. We never focused on the biology of the tumor, which is this whole component of DNA.”

That’s where Dr. Etame saw his opportunity to make an impact.

“There was room for that investigation. And I wanted to be involved in both research and clinical practice.” So he turned to Moffitt, where he knew there was a unique balance of personalized care and innovative research.

Today, Dr. Etame treats patients with brain and spinal cancers. And while it was the science that initially drew him to this field, it’s the patients who have made his career fulfilling.

“I think you learn more about how to be a human being from them, in the sense that these are patients with the most life-threatening conditions, and yet, they handle it so gracefully. With so much courage.”

It’s this courage that inspires him to not only continue pursuing better medical options, but to also consider the human side of medicine.

“For most illnesses, there's so much that we can do from the science and medicine standpoint. But it's something that you do as an individual, either your state of mind or something about your body that can really make the difference.”

At the end of the day, for Dr. Etame, it’s the patients who come to Moffitt that do make the difference. He views them as his greatest motivation and his utmost reward.

“The amount of satisfaction that you get working with them – nothing can replace that. That kind of payment is intangible.”