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Alfred S. Ketcham

In Memoriam: Alfred S. Ketcham

(10/07/1924 - 07/16/2017)Member since 1963

Alfred S. Ketcham, MD, emeritus member of the AACR, died July 17, 2017, at the age of 92. Ketcham is the former chief of surgical oncology at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami, a position he held from 1974 until his retirement in 1995.

Born Oct. 7, 1924, in Newark, New York, Ketcham was likely inspired to pursue a career in medicine following a bout with polio at age 16. He graduated from Hobart College in Geneva, New York, with a bachelor’s degree in science, and attended medical school at the University of Rochester. Following medical school, Ketcham completed an internship at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, and surgical residency training at United States Public Health Service hospitals in San Francisco and Seattle. After his residency programs, he worked on an Indian reservation in Talihina, Oklahoma, before joining the Surgery Branch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Bethesda in 1957. He eventually served as chief of surgery at the NCI.

Ketcham’s early research at the NCI, which examined induced and spontaneous tumor metastasis using a murine model, improved our understanding of the metastatic process, especially site-specific metastasis. As a surgeon, he demonstrated techniques to minimize complications of resection for paranasal sinus tumors.

In 1974, Ketcham joined the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami to found the Division of Surgical Oncology. While at the University of Miami, he was involved in the first major study that compared mastectomy with tumor removal and radiation, results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985. Findings from the study determined that a woman did not need to have her entire breast removed to survive breast cancer.

Ketcham first joined the AACR as an active member in 1963. He was featured on the cover of Cancer Research in the July 15, 1993, issue.

Additionally, Ketcham served as president of the American Radium Society, the Society of Head and Neck Surgeons, the Society of Surgical Oncology, and the Society of Pelvic Surgeons; as president of the board of governors of the American Federation of Clinical Oncology Societies; and as a governor of the American College of Surgeons. He was honored with the Alpha Omega Alpha National Honor Medical Society award, the U.S. Public Health Service Meritorious Service Medal, and an honorary doctor of science degree from Hobart College.