Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

State Senator to Detail His Cancer, His Surgeon Receives $1.5 Million Anonymous Gift


In December, Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steven A. Geller (D-Cooper City) underwent a cutting-edge treatment to remove a cancerous tumor embedded deep in his left kidney.

The growth was excised by Raymond J. Leveillee, M.D., chief of the Division of Endourology, Laparoscopy and Minimally Invasive Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and member of the Prostate, Bladder and Kidney Site Disease Group at UM/Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, using an innovative procedure.

Dr. Leveillee is one of a handful of U.S. physicians possessing the expertise to burn away the malignancy, using a technique known as radio frequency ablation (RFA). RFA involves the insertion of a needle carrying electrical current to burn away cancerous masses. Temperature monitors are used to prevent damage to adjoining, healthy tissue. Dr. Leveillee describes the technique as “a marriage of technology with surgical skills, using the cat scan as an extension of my hands.”

This minimally-invasive procedure enabled Sen. Geller to have out-patient surgery and return to work in a matter of days, as opposed to a more conventional procedure that would have hospitalized Sen. Geller for a week and called for at least a month of recuperation and rehabilitation. Because of the thorough removal, Sen. Geller has not needed any radiation or chemotherapy.

Sen. Geller, who discovered his tumor last summer during a CT scan for kidney stones, had a regular, six-month follow-up CT scan Friday, June 20, at UM/Sylvester to ensure that he’s still cancer-free. The Senate Democratic Leader is sharing his experience in the hopes of reminding other South Floridians that the most innovative cancer treatments are available here at UM/Sylvester.

Dr. Leveillee’s expertise in using RFA has drawn the attention of an anonymous donor. Sen. Geller disclosed a $1.5 million anonymous gift has been made to Dr. Leveillee by the grateful relatives of another cancer patient successfully treated by the innovative endourologist. Dr. Leveillee plans to use the gift to continue and perfect the application of RFA, to enhance the benefit to more patients.

E-mail a Friend