Photo of Kenneth K. Tanabe,  MD

Kenneth K. Tanabe, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital
Phone: (617) 724-3868
Fax: (617) 724-3895

Kenneth K. Tanabe, MD

Massachusetts General Hospital


  • Professor, Surgery, Harvard Medical School
  • Chief, Surgical Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital



  • Member, Center Scientific Council

Research Abstract

Clinical Research Areas: Liver cancer surgery and melanoma surgery.

Laboratory Research Areas: 1) Viral oncolysis/gene therapy; 2) hepatocellular transformation.

One laboratory research focus is on viral oncolysis of solid tumors. We have examined Herpes simplex virus 1 immediately early gene regulation as a strategy to achieve preferential HSV-1 replication in transformed cells compared to normal cells. We are also involved in integration of specific therapeutic transgenes into these viral mutants. The laboratory work centers on genetic engineering of viral mutants, preclinical characterization, and clinical trials of viral oncolytic gene therapy.

A second laboratory research focus is on pathways involved in hepatocellular transformation to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in the setting of cirrhosis. Recent studies on the EGF gene demonstrate a functional single nucleotide polymorphism that increases serum and liver EGF levels and significantly raises risk for HCC. Prevention of HCC by blockade of EGFR signalling can prevent HCC in preclinical models.


Powered by Harvard Catalyst
  • Tapias LF, Gilpin SE, Ren X, Wei L, Fuchs BC, Tanabe KK, Lanuti M, Ott HC. Assessment of Proliferation and Cytotoxicity in a Biomimetic Three-Dimensional Model of Lung Cancer. Ann Thorac Surg 2015. PubMed
  • Luo S, Lobo AZ, Tanabe KK, Muzikansky A, Durazzo T, Sober A, Tsao H, Cosimi AB, Lawrence DP, Duncan LM. Clinical Significance of Microscopic Melanoma Metastases in the Nonhottest Sentinel Lymph Nodes. JAMA Surg 2015. PubMed
  • Lin WM, Luo S, Muzikansky A, Lobo AZ, Tanabe KK, Sober AJ, Cosimi AB, Tsao H, Duncan LM. Outcome of patients with de novo versus nevus-associated melanoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 2014; 72:54-8. PubMed
  • Fong ZV, Tanabe KK. The clinical management of hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States, Europe, and Asia: A comprehensive and evidence-based comparison and review. Cancer 2014. PubMed
  • Murai T, Yamada S, Fuchs BC, Fujii T, Nakayama G, Sugimoto H, Koike M, Fujiwara M, Tanabe KK, Kodera Y. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition predicts prognosis in clinical gastric cancer. J Surg Oncol 2014; 109:684-9. PubMed
  • Kuruppu D, Brownell AL, Shah K, Mahmood U, Tanabe KK. Molecular imaging with bioluminescence and PET reveals viral oncolysis kinetics and tumor viability. Cancer Res 2014. PubMed
  • Yamada S, Okumura N, Wei L, Fuchs BC, Fujii T, Sugimoto H, Nomoto S, Takeda S, Tanabe KK, Kodera Y. Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition is Associated with Shorter Disease-Free Survival in Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2014. PubMed
  • Coit DG, Thompson JA, Andtbacka R, Anker CJ, Bichakjian CK, Carson WE, Daniels GA, Daud A, Dimaio D, Fleming MD, Gonzalez R, Guild V, Halpern AC, Hodi FS, Kelley MC, Khushalani NI, Kudchadkar RR, Lange JR, Martini MC, Olszanski AJ, Ross MI, Salama A, Swetter SM, Tanabe KK, Trisal V, Urist MM, McMillian NR, Ho M. Melanoma, version 4.2014. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2014; 12:621-9. PubMed
  • Borger DR, Goyal L, Yau T, Poon RT, Ancukiewicz M, Deshpande V, Christiani DC, Liebman HM, Yang H, Kim H, Yen K, Faris JE, Iafrate AJ, Kwak EL, Clark JW, Allen JN, Blaszkowsky LS, Murphy JE, Saha SK, Hong TS, Wo JY, Ferrone CR, Tanabe KK, Bardeesy N, Straley KS, Agresta S, Schenkein DP, Ellisen LW, Ryan DP, Zhu AX. Circulating oncometabolite 2-hydroxyglutarate is a potential surrogate biomarker in patients with isocitrate dehydrogenase-mutant intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Clin Cancer Res 2014; 20:1884-90. PubMed
  • Fuchs BC, Hoshida Y, Fujii T, Wei L, Yamada S, Lauwers GY, McGinn CM, Deperalta DK, Chen X, Kuroda T, Lanuti M, Schmitt AD, Gupta S, Crenshaw A, Onofrio R, Taylor B, Winckler W, Bardeesy N, Caravan P, Golub TR, Tanabe KK. Epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition attenuates liver fibrosis and development of hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 2014; 59:1577-90. PubMed
  • Deperalta DK, Hoang MP, Tanabe KK. Approaches to regional nodes in patients with melanoma. J Clin Oncol 2014; 32:881-5. PubMed
  • Kroy DC, Ciuffreda D, Cooperrider JH, Tomlinson M, Hauck GD, Aneja J, Berger C, Wolski D, Carrington M, Wherry EJ, Chung RT, Tanabe KK, Elias N, Freeman GJ, de Kruyff RH, Misdraji J, Kim AY, Lauer GM. Liver environment and HCV replication affect human T-cell phenotype and expression of inhibitory receptors. Gastroenterology 2014; 146:550-61. PubMed
  • King LY, Johnson KB, Zheng H, Wei L, Gudewicz T, Hoshida Y, Corey KE, Ajayi T, Ufere N, Baumert TF, Chan AT, Tanabe KK, Fuchs BC, Chung RT. Host genetics predict clinical deterioration in HCV-related cirrhosis. PLoS ONE 2014; 9:e114747. PubMed
  • Naba A, Clauser KR, Whittaker CA, Carr SA, Tanabe KK, Hynes RO. Extracellular matrix signatures of human primary metastatic colon cancers and their metastases to liver. BMC Cancer 2014; 14:518. PubMed
  • Yamada S, Fuchs BC, Fujii T, Shimoyama Y, Sugimoto H, Nomoto S, Takeda S, Tanabe KK, Kodera Y, Nakao A. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition predicts prognosis of pancreatic cancer. Surgery 2013; 154:946-54. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK, Hoshida Y. Prognostic gene signatures for hepatocellular carcinoma: what are we measuring? Ann Surg Oncol 2013; 20:3707-8. PubMed
  • Coit DG, Andtbacka R, Anker CJ, Bichakjian CK, Carson WE, Daud A, Dimaio D, Fleming MD, Guild V, Halpern AC, Hodi FS, Kelley MC, Khushalani NI, Kudchadkar RR, Lange JR, Lind A, Martini MC, Olszanski AJ, Pruitt SK, Ross MI, Swetter SM, Tanabe KK, Thompson JA, Trisal V, Urist MM, McMillian N, Ho M. Melanoma, Version 2.2013: Featured Updates to the NCCN Guidelines. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2013; 11:395-407. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK, Chiocca EA. "Infectious" optimism for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma. Mol Ther 2013; 21:722-4. PubMed
  • Suenaga M, Yamada S, Fujii T, Fuchs BC, Okumura N, Kanda M, Kobayashi D, Tanaka C, Nakayama G, Sugimoto H, Koike M, Nomoto S, Fujiwara M, Takeda S, Hayashi K, Tanabe KK, Goto H, Kodera Y. A functional polymorphism in the epidermal growth factor gene predicts hepatocellular carcinoma risk in Japanese hepatitis C patients. Onco Targets Ther 2013; 6:1805-12. PubMed
  • Hayano K, Desai GS, Kambadakone AR, Fuentes JM, Tanabe KK, Sahani DV. Quantitative characterization of hepatocellular carcinoma and metastatic liver tumor by CT perfusion. Cancer Imaging 2013; 13:512-9. PubMed
  • Lobo AZ, Tanabe KK, Luo S, Muzikansky A, Sober AJ, Tsao H, Cosimi AB, Duncan LM. The distribution of microscopic melanoma metastases in sentinel lymph nodes: implications for pathology protocols. Am J Surg Pathol 2012; 36:1841-8. PubMed
  • Hung T, Piris A, Lobo A, Mihm MC, Sober AJ, Tsao H, Tanabe KK, Duncan LM. Sentinel lymph node metastasis is not predictive of poor outcome in patients with problematic spitzoid melanocytic tumors. Hum Pathol 2012. PubMed
  • Hoshida Y, Fuchs BC, Tanabe KK. Prevention of hepatocellular carcinoma: potential targets, experimental models, and clinical challenges. Curr Cancer Drug Targets 2012. PubMed
  • Abu Dayyeh BK, Yang M, Fuchs BC, Karl DL, Yamada S, Sninsky JJ, O'Brien TR, Dienstag JL, Tanabe KK, Chung RT, . A Functional Polymorphism in the Epidermal Growth Factor Gene is Associated with Risk for Hepatocellular Carcinoma. Gastroenterology 2011. PubMed
  • Tsao H, Tanabe KK, Lawrence DP, Piris A. Case records of the Massachusetts General Hospital. Case 30-2010. A 15-year-old boy with a recurrent skin lesion. N Engl J Med 2010; 363:1352-60. PubMed
  • Geevarghese SK, Geller DA, de Haan H, Hörer M, Knoll A, Mescheder A, Nemunaitis J, Reid T, Sze DY, Tanabe KK. Phase I/II Study of an Oncolytic Herpes Simplex Virus, NV1020, in Patients with Heavily Pretreated Refractory Colorectal Cancer Metastatic to the Liver. Hum Gene Ther 2010; 21:1119-28. PubMed
  • Pandalai PK, Dominguez FJ, Michaelson J, Tanabe KK. Clinical Value of Radiographic Staging in Patients Diagnosed With AJCC Stage III Melanoma. Ann Surg Oncol 2010. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK, Jara S, Michaelson J. Creating and Providing Predictions of Melanoma Outcome. Ann Surg Oncol 2010; 17:1981-2. PubMed
  • Michaelson JS, Chen LL, Silverstein MJ, Cheongsiatmoy JA, Mihm MC, Sober AJ, Tanabe KK, Smith BL, Younger J. Why cancer at the primary site and in the lymph nodes contributes to the risk of cancer death. Cancer 2009; 115:5084-94. PubMed
  • Michaelson JS, Chen LL, Silverstein MJ, Mihm MC, Sober AJ, Tanabe KK, Smith BL, Younger J. How cancer at the primary site and in the lymph nodes contributes to the risk of cancer death. Cancer 2009; 115:5095-107. PubMed
  • Chen LL, Nolan ME, Silverstein MJ, Mihm MC, Sober AJ, Tanabe KK, Smith BL, Younger J, Michaelson JS. The impact of primary tumor size, lymph node status, and other prognostic factors on the risk of cancer death. Cancer 2009; 115:5071-83. PubMed
  • Cleary JM, Tanabe KT, Lauwers GY, Zhu AX. Hepatic toxicities associated with the use of preoperative systemic therapy in patients with metastatic colorectal adenocarcinoma to the liver. Oncologist 2009; 14:1095-105. PubMed
  • Domart MC, Esposti DD, Sebagh M, Olaya N, Harper F, Pierron G, Franc B, Tanabe KK, Debuire B, Azoulay D, Brenner C, Lemoine A. Concurrent induction of necrosis, apoptosis, and autophagy in ischemic preconditioned human livers formerly treated by chemotherapy. J Hepatol 2009; 51:881-9. PubMed
  • Cheung WY, Zhai R, Kulke MH, Heist RS, Asomaning K, Ma C, Wang Z, Su L, Lanuti M, Tanabe KK, Christiani DC, Liu G. Epidermal growth factor A61G gene polymorphism, gastroesophageal reflux disease and esophageal adenocarcinoma risk. Carcinogenesis 2009; 30:1363-7. PubMed
  • Konstantinidis IT,Deshpande V,Genevay M,Berger D,Fernandez-del Castillo C,Tanabe KK,Zheng H,Lauwers GY,Ferrone CR. Trends in presentation and survival for gallbladder cancer during a period of more than 4 decades: a single-institution experience. Arch Surg 2009; 144:441-7; discussion 447. PubMed
  • Coit DG,Andtbacka R,Bichakjian CK,Dilawari RA,Dimaio D,Guild V,Halpern AC,Hodi FS,Kashani-Sabet M,Lange JR,Lind A,Martin L,Martini MC,Pruitt SK,Ross MI,Sener SF,Swetter SM,Tanabe KK,Thompson JA,Trisal V,Urist MM,Weber J,Wong MK. Melanoma. J Natl Compr Canc Netw 2009; 7:250-75. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK. The past 60 years in liver surgery. Cancer 2008; 113:1888-96. PubMed
  • Lanuti M,Liu G,Goodwin JM,Zhai R,Fuchs BC,Asomaning K,Su L,Nishioka NS,Tanabe KK,Christiani DC. A functional epidermal growth factor (EGF) polymorphism, EGF serum levels, and esophageal adenocarcinoma risk and outcome. Clin Cancer Res 2008; 14:3216-22. PubMed
  • Fuchs BC, Fujii T, Dorfman JD, Goodwin JM, Zhu AX, Lanuti M, Tanabe KK. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and integrin-linked kinase mediate sensitivity to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibition in human hepatoma cells. Cancer Res 2008; 68:2391-9. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK, Lemoine A, Finkelstein DM, Kawasaki H, Fujii T, Chung RT, Lauwers GY, Kulu Y, Muzikansky A, Kuruppu D, Lanuti M, Goodwin JM, Azoulay D, Fuchs BC. Epidermal growth factor gene functional polymorphism and the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis. JAMA 2008; 299:53-60. PubMed
  • Pawlik TM, Gleisner AL, Bauer TW, Adams RB, Reddy SK, Clary BM, Martin RC, Scoggins CR, Tanabe KK, Michaelson JS, Kooby DA, Staley CA, Schulick RD, Vauthey JN, Abdalla EK, Curley SA, Choti MA, Elias D. Liver-directed surgery for metastatic squamous cell carcinoma to the liver: results of a multi-center analysis. Ann Surg Oncol 2007; 14:2807-16. PubMed
  • Livestro DP, Kaine EM, Michaelson JS, Mihm MC, Haluska FG, Muzikansky A, Sober AJ, Tanabe KK. Melanoma in the young: differences and similarities with adult melanoma: a case-matched controlled analysis. Cancer 2007; 110:614-24. PubMed
  • Ohashi R, Takahashi F, Cui R, Yoshioka M, Gu T, Sasaki S, Tominaga S, Nishio K, Tanabe KK, Takahashi K. Interaction between CD44 and hyaluronate induces chemoresistance in non-small cell lung cancer cell. Cancer Lett 2007; 252:225-34. PubMed
  • Yoon SS, Tanabe KK. Should Surgical Resection Be Combined with Imatinib Therapy for Locally Advanced or Metastatic Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors? Ann Surg Oncol 2007; 14:1784-6. PubMed
  • Tanabe KK. New techniques of liver surgery. Semin Oncol 2006; 33:S39-41. PubMed
  • Tanabe K, Tokuda H, Takai S, Matsushima-Nishiwaki R, Hanai Y, Hirade K, Katagiri Y, Dohi S, Kozawa O. Modulation by the steroid/thyroid hormone superfamily of TGF-beta-stimulated VEGF release from vascular smooth muscle cells. J Cell Biochem 2006; 99:187-95. PubMed
  • Wada Y, Yoshida K, Suzuki T, Mizuiri H, Konishi K, Ukon K, Tanabe K, Sakata Y, Fukushima M. Synergistic effects of docetaxel and S-1 by modulating the expression of metabolic enzymes of 5-fluorouracil in human gastric cancer cell lines. Int J Cancer 2006; 119:783-91. PubMed
  • Blanchard K, Colbert JA, Kopans DB, Moore R, Halpern EF, Hughes KS, Smith BL, Tanabe KK, Michaelson JS. Long-term risk of false-positive screening results and subsequent biopsy as a function of mammography use. Radiology 2006; 240:335-42. PubMed
  • Kim R, Arihiro K, Emi M, Tanabe K, Osaki A. Potential role of HER-2; in primary breast tumor with bone metastasis. Oncol Rep 2006; 15:1477-84. PubMed
  • Watanabe S, Ogawa S, Hara Y, Tanabe K, Toma H, Abe R. Expression level of costimulatory receptor ICOS is critical for determining the polarization of helper T cell function. Transpl Immunol 2006; 15:255-63. PubMed
  • Yoon SS, Kim SH, Gonen M, Heffernan NM, Detwiller KY, Jarnagin WR, D'Angelica M, Blumgart LH, Tanabe KK, Dematteo RP. Profile of plasma angiogenic factors before and after hepatectomy for colorectal cancer liver metastases. Ann Surg Oncol 2006; 13:353-62. PubMed
  • Hong TS, DeLaney TF, Mamon HJ, Willett CG, Yeap BY, Niemierko A, Wolfgang JA, Lu HM, Adams J, Weyman EA, Arellano RS, Blaszkowsky LS, Allen JN, Tanabe KK, Ryan DP, Zhu AX. A prospective feasibility study of respiratory-gated proton beam therapy for liver tumors. 2014; 4:316-22. PubMed