Matthew Mutch, MD, is chief of colon and rectal surgery. The conditions he treats include: colorectal cancer, colon cancer, cancer of the rectum, inflammatory bowel disease, incontinence, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, anal fissure and rectal-vaginal fistulas.
Dr. Mutch sees patients at:
- Siteman Cancer Center – South County, 5225 Midamerica Plaza
- Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, Medical Building One, 1040 N. Mason Road
Please call 314-454-7177 for an appointment.
What happened in the course of schooling to influence you to choose your specialty?
I always wanted to be a physician. My dad is an obstetrician/gynecologist and I just assumed all physicians also were surgeons. So when I got to medical school, it seemed like a very natural fit to go into surgery.
My initial choice was surgical oncology. I worked in the lab with Dr. Terry Lairmore, who at the time was a Washington University physician doing research in cancer genetics. However, it was during my rotation in colorectal where I was exposed to the expertise and humility of the colorectal surgeons and the variety of colorectal disease that greatly influenced my decision to go into colorectal surgery.
What brought you to Washington University?
I came here for medical school and stayed for my residency. Before I left for my fellowship at the Leahy Clinic in Massachusetts, Washington University offered me a position to return and join the faculty at the end of my training.
At the time there weren’t many academic centers that had well-developed colorectal surgery programs. This program offered everything I was looking for – clinical, research and teaching opportunities. It was an easy decision to accept the position.
What research are you involved in?
We are currently doing research on improved patient outcomes and implementation of patient safety. We are looking for better and effective ways to use traditional research to make a difference in surgical site infection prevention and enhanced recovery, as well as using a minimally invasive approach for colon cancer and rectal cancer surgery.
Which aspect of your practice is most interesting?
I find all of it interesting. My main clinical interest is colon and rectal cancer, and treating those conditions is definitely gratifying. But it is also rewarding to treat the many benign diseases, such as diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis, Cohn’s disease and even benign anal rectal disease because they can have a significant impact on a patient’s life.
There is a lot of diversity in my practice — from complex to simple cases. Every day is different.
What new developments in your field are you excited about?
Right now some of the biggest advances are within the treatment of rectal cancer. As recently as five years ago, one treatment option fit every patient. We are now learning there are very simple nuances to determine which patient needs which treatment in order to individualize patient care.
For example, after we determine what kind of surgery is needed, then it must be decided if it is surgery alone or surgery combined with chemotherapy or radiation treatment.
We also have improved procedures to more accurately determine who needs treatment before surgery, and what is the best treatment regime based on the patient’s needs. We are even treating some patients with chemotherapy and radiation without surgery – and from a bowel function standpoint, that can be very significant.
Where are you from?
I am from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The main difference between winter in St. Louis and winter in Sioux Falls is that when it is cold in Sioux Falls, there is usually snow on the ground. So it is cold and white, which is much more attractive than cold and brown! The temperature extremes are not that much different – it just stays colder longer up there.
Is there a particular award or achievement that is most gratifying?
In 2010, I was the program chair for the annual meeting of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. At the time, it was one of the largest attended meetings in our society’s history, so it was very gratifying to be involved in organizing that event.
I recently won the Victor Fazio award for editorial excellence for the journal of Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. Dr. Fazio was one of the former chairs of colon and rectal surgery at the Cleveland Clinic, and was one of the longer-standing editors of the journal who helped make it the respected publication it is today.
What is the best advice you’ve received?
Just find what you are passionate about and go for it.
If you weren’t a doctor, what would you like to be doing?
I ask myself that all the time. I would love to be a guide who could provide a unique outdoor experience for people and help them learn about the environment and themselves – taking them out of their comfort zone.