In memoriam: Giorgio Pizzocaro (1939-2020)

25 February 2021 By Dr. Nicolai Nicola

“Italian pioneer in testicular and penile cancers”

With great sadness I heard that Giorgio Pizzocaro died on 26 November, 2020. He had been suffering from a long and grave illness for a considerable time, which resulted in an ever-increasing reduction of his physical and mental health.

Prof. Pizzocaro started as an internal student at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan (IT) in 1960, where he remained until his retirement from the public health system at the age of 67 in 2006.

His initial scientific interest was in breast cancer. Later, this was expanded to thoracic surgery. As surgery fellow, head and neck and abdominal surgery were his areas of interest. In 1969, he even won a stage period in the field of chest diseases at the London Brompton Hospital Institute (UK).

Furthermore, he was a pioneer in the study and treatment of testicular and penile cancers in Italy. He deepened the knowledge in the field by introducing skills based on method and rigor of analysis. The Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan, where he worked in the second half of the 90s, was a world of medicine which was not yet permeated by these scientific concepts.
He was responsible for the introduction and standardisation in Italy of retroperitoneal lymphadenectomy. As innovative surgeon, he implemented the first effective chemotherapy (with cisplatin) for testicular tumours. Furthermore, the implementation of lymph node surgery and innovative schemes for the chemotherapy treatment of penile tumours can be attributed to him.

Only a few years ago, Giorgio Pizzocaro recalled the time he made his first acquaintance with testicular tumours. He had studied the reports relating to testicular tumours recorded among soldiers of the American Army during and immediately after World War II. He was anxious to find new treatment options to help these, often young, patients.

For many years, Dr. Pizzocaro was an authority in the field of oncological urology, even beyond our national borders. He earned his esteemed reputation based on his high level of competence, evident scientific rigor and his strong character. There is no doubt in my mind that thanks to him, Italy enjoys widespread recognition for its competence in the pathologies most dear to Dr. Pizzocaro. However, we should also thank him for the dissemination of methodological principles that are currently used in the fields of urology and oncological urology.

One of these days Giorgio Pizzocaro would have turned 81. Unfortunately, he died shortly before. Those who have known him, know what his legacy is. It will not be forgotten.

I extend my sincere condolences and deep sympathy for Dr. Pizzocaro’s family.

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