Skip to main content

Talks with Docs: Luke Martin, Gastrointestinal Surgery, and Colorectal Treatment

photo of Luke Martin, MD
Luke Martin, MD

Video transcript

There's a lot of quality of life issues that go along with gastrointestinal surgery. I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping patients from that standpoint.

My name is Luke Martin. I am an assistant professor of colon and rectal surgery here at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. And my specialty focuses on diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus.

What made you want to become a surgeon?

The thing that probably attracted me to general surgery the most is that we really get to care for the whole patient and treat their surgical problems as well as their associated medical conditions and really focus on the global care of the patient. I think that was the thing that attracted me to general surgery. And then in terms of colon and rectal surgery, I really enjoyed the patient population, it's pretty varied—we take care of young patients, old patients, and everything in between. And we take care of patients who have both benign and malignant conditions. And I think there's a lot of quality of life issues that go along with gastrointestinal surgery, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of helping patients from that standpoint.

What is the biggest misconception patients have about colorectal treatment?

I think the biggest misconception that patients have is that they're alone in some of the conditions that they have because so many people are nervous to talk about their gastrointestinal issues or disturbances that they're having and it's really, really common. I think sort of normalizing that a lot of people have problems with digestion and various GI conditions—it's really surprising when patients hear that.

What are you up to on your days off?

My favorite thing to do is really anything outdoors. Summer or winter—that's more or less where you can find me—typically outside either trail running or cross-country skiing or camping. I love going up to the mountains and down to the desert and I think any weekend that I have the chance that's typically where you'll find me with my wife and our dogs. I think if I had to pick one thing that I've started doing living here in Utah is canyoneering down in the desert. And there's one specific canyon, the Neon Canyon Golden Cathedral, that really stands out as being a really unique and great experience.

Who would you trade lives with for a day?

I think I'd be really interested to spend a day in the life of Winston Churchill. I think anybody who had to make such critical decisions during such a tumultuous time in the world, I think, and make them with conviction. I think it would be really interesting to spend a day in their life

What is your favorite part of your job?

The operating room is great because, it's definitely the place that I feel most comfortable in medicine. It's a place that you know, those are the days that are the most enjoyable in the days that, you know, you're able to really, sort of, perfect your craft.

What should patients expect when visiting your team?

The thing that I would tell patients to expect is that this is something that we as providers do every single day. We have a group of specialists who all we treat are diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. When we evaluate patients, oftentimes patients are coming in with either a diagnosis or a potential diagnosis based off an endoscopy or having previously seen a gastroenterologist. They're often being referred into our office for a surgical consultation. The thing that I would tell patients to expect is that we often need to do an exam—sometimes the exam involves looking at the inside of the rectum or the colon, and we do this in a way in the office that is discrete and comfortable for the patient and we really talk them through the exam before we do it. And we try to make everybody as comfortable as possible.

What makes Huntsman Cancer Institute unique?

Not everywhere is minimally invasive surgery the standard for cancer care for GI malignancies and I think it is definitely the standard here at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. All of the colon and rectal surgeons and surgical oncologists that take care of patients with GI malignancies are very skilled at minimally invasive procedures and I think it really contributes to improved patient outcomes and their functional recovery.