Dr. Mark Varvares – Championing Music Therapy in Cancer Care

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Mark Varvares is a native of St. Louis, Missouri. He graduated from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1986 magna cum laude and was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. His first year of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck surgery training was at St. Louis University, and he completed his postgraduate Otolaryngology training at Harvard. He stayed on at Harvard for a one-year Head and Neck Ablative and Reconstructive fellowship under the directions of Drs. William Montgomery and Mark Cheney. After completing his fellowship, Dr. Varvares advanced in his career at both the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and the St. Louis University School of Medicine at different time periods. In 2003, he was offered the positions as Chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at St. Louis University. In January of 2006, Dr. Varvares was also named Director of the St. Louis University Cancer Center. In April of 2008, Dr. Varvares was named the first incumbent of the Donald and Marlene Jerome Endowed Chair in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. His present clinical interests include all aspects of head and neck surgical oncology, including major ablative and reconstructive surgery of the head and neck, multidisciplinary care of the head and neck cancer patient, skull base surgery, reconstruction of the larynx and trachea, and the surgical management of thyroid and parathyroid disorders.

Dr. Varvares demonstrates his belief in music therapy as a worthy and valid therapy for patients who are diagnosed with cancer in both word and deed: as a surgeon, educator, researcher, and community partner. He advocates the benefits of music therapy in the SLU Cancer Center’s clinic, with his pre- and post-operative patients, with residents, fellows, attending physicians, and peers. He includes the music therapist in staff meetings related to patient satisfaction and quality care. Dr. Varvares encourages the music therapist to create new, innovative interventions. He has even donated a guitar from his own home for the music therapist to utilize during sessions with patients. Simply put, if not for Dr. Varvares, the SLU Cancer Center would not have the thriving and collaborative music therapy program it has today.

Mark A. Varvares, M.D., F.A.C.S.:

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