Obituary: Carlos A. Perez, MD, professor emeritus of radiation oncology, 88

Carlos Perez

Carlos A. Perez, MD, an internationally renowned cancer researcher and professor emeritus of radiation oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, died Aug. 21, 2023, in Springfield, Mo., where he had retired. He was 88.

Perez was also the inaugural head of the school’s Department of Radiation Oncology.

In a career that spanned nearly 60 years, Perez made numerous contributions to the field of radiation oncology, especially in the care of patients with gynecologic cancers and tumors of the breast, prostate and lung. He was well-known for emphasizing the human aspect of cancer care, advocating with deep compassion for patients and making a point to understand their emotional and psychological needs.

Perez joined the faculty of Washington University in 1964 and became director of the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR) Radiation Oncology Center in 1976. He began a training program for radiation therapy technologists in 1966 and led a strong research program that made significant contributions to the advancement of cancer radiation therapy. This included playing key roles in establishing strategies to amplify the effects of radiation treatment with the use of chemotherapy and with hyperthermia — or the application of heat to enhance radiation treatment. In 2001, the Radiation Oncology Center became a new academic department at the School of Medicine, and Perez was named the first head of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

“Dr. Perez was an international leader in the field of radiation oncology,” said Dennis E. Hallahan, MD, the Elizabeth H. and James S. McDonnell III Distinguished Professor and head of the Department of Radiation Oncology. “He advanced the field through clinical investigation and development of new technology to treat cancer.”

A tireless advocate for patients, Perez helped found Washington University’s Cancer Information Center in 1977. One of the first resource facilities of its kind in the U.S., the center provides medical information, resources and emotional support for cancer patients and has served as a model for similar facilities around the world.

He is survived by his three sons, Carlos S., Bernard and Edward Perez; their mother, his first spouse, Blanca M. Pérez, MD; his brother, Jorge Pérez; his sisters Maria Victoria Uribe and Nubia Perez; four grandchildren; five nieces; and several in-laws, with whom he was close. He was preceded in death by his second wife, Susan Bradshaw Perez.

A memorial service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 2, at Greenlawn Funeral Home North, 3506 North National Ave., in Springfield, Mo.

Read the full obituary on the School of Medicine website.

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