Advisory Boards

Charles M. Balch, MD, FACS, FASCO

Dr. Charles M. Balch, oncologist, surgeon, and one of the world’s preeminent melanoma and breast cancer experts, has devoted more than 40 years to trailblazing research and to leadership positions in academic and clinical settings. Dr. Balch is a renowned teacher and lecturer and a revered mentor in the field of surgery and oncology. He currently serves as professor of surgery at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and as editor-in-chief of Patient Resource Cancer Guides.

Dr. Balch has led global efforts to build networks in the areas of outcomes research and clinical trials, authoring more than 750 publications on clinical investigations involving staging and prognostic factors in melanoma, standards of surgical treatment in melanoma and breast cancer, and the conduct and methodology of clinical research and immunology. His laboratory research accomplishments include significant contributions in tumor immunology and human T lymphocyte differentiation. His scientific publications have been cited in the biomedical literature in more than 23,000 articles, and he has lectured in more than 42 countries and most major U.S. academic centers.

Dr. Balch previously chaired the Melanoma Staging Committee of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). He is editor of Cutaneous Melanoma, the authoritative textbook on melanoma, now in its fifth edition. He is the founding editor-in-chief of the Annals of Surgical Oncology and Breast Diseases (emeritus).

Dr. Balch most recently served at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas as professor of surgery and before that at Johns Hopkins Medical Center as professor of surgery, oncology and dermatology; deputy director for clinical trials and outcomes research; and director of the Johns Hopkins Clinical Research Network. He earlier fulfilled similar duties at UT M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, The City of Hope National Medical Center, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

As Melanoma Staging Committee chair, Dr. Balch and other experts organized the largest prognostics factors analysis ever conducted. The study involved 60,000 melanoma patients from three continents and major cancer cooperative groups. Their analyses extensively revised the staging system for melanoma. Dr. Balch’s contributions to the melanoma literature comprise six books and nearly 200 book chapters and articles relating to his clinical investigations. He has been a principal investigator of numerous clinical trials, many of them NCI-funded National Phase III trials, and has assumed key roles internationally in randomized surgical trials. The results of these trials have defined current melanoma surgery standards and established the safety of using more conservative surgical excision of primary melanoma. Additionally, he has led five cooperative clinical trials involving combinations of adjuvant biological therapy or chemotherapy in high-risk melanoma patients.

In the area of breast cancer, Dr. Balch was a co-principal investigator in the only randomized surgical trial comparing Halsted radical mastectomy with modified radical mastectomy. He helped pioneer skin saving mastectomies followed by immediate breast reconstruction. His immunology research has included participation in fundamental work delineating human T lymphocyte and NK cell differentiating surface markers, and in developing the anti-HNK1 monoclonal antibody that first identified the CD57 antigen on NK cells. Dr. Balch has served in various administrative and leadership positions with the American Society of Surgical Oncology (president), the American Board of Surgery (board of directors), the Association of Academic Surgeons (president), the Commission on Cancer (chair, board of directors), and the AJCC (executive committee). Recent honors include an honorary PhD from the University of Crete and the Highest Alumni Award from the University of Toledo, where he graduated with a BS in biology. He earned his MD from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.