Meet Dr. Beomjune “BJ” Kim, Head and Neck Oncologic Surgeon


April is Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month. In recognition of this important time for raising awareness about these cancers, we are sharing interviews with several of our Board-Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons who specialize in Head and Neck Oncologic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Below, we hear from Beomjune “BJ” B. Kim, DMD, MD, FACS.

How did you become passionate about head and neck oncologic surgery?

The inspiration first came during my Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency training at the University of Maryland from one of my great mentors, Dr. Robert Ord. The experience of helping cancer patients cope with their disease and regain quality of life was so rewarding that I decided to pursue head and neck oncology. 

Then I was fortunate to complete my Head and Neck Oncologic Fellowship training under the mentorship of Dr. Ghali Ghali , Dr. Melvyn Yeoh and Dr. David Kim at Louisiana State University in Shreveport, where I realized a dream of becoming a comprehensive head and neck surgeon.

What percentage of your practice today is oncologic?

100 % of my practice today is dedicated to head and neck oncology. Currently I am practicing comprehensive head and neck oncology including treatment of oral cavity/pharyngeal/laryngeal/thyroid/skin cancers as well as head and neck microvascular reconstructive surgery at City of Hope Cancer Center, Atlanta, GA. 

What makes your work rewarding?

Even as an oncologic surgeon, it is difficult to truly imagine the psychological and physical agony cancer patients are experiencing.

I consider it a privilege to help them through their difficult journey and potentially save their lives. 

How has this line of work affected you personally?

It is humbling to realize the limitations of contemporary medicine. It can be frustrating and sometimes traumatic to see patients suffer at their terminal stage of disease and even die.

However, this has challenged me to become a better surgeon, researcher and person. It also helped me count my blessings and take nothing for granted.  

What advancements in the field have you witnessed in your career, and what do you foresee in the future?

There are numerous advancements I have witnessed over the last 15 years, such as minimally invasive surgeries utilizing DaVinci Robots for oropharyngeal cancer ablation and immediate prosthetic rehabilitation after oral cancer extirpation, i.e., "jaw-in-a-day". I have kept up with these technological and surgical advances in my practice. 

Currently, I am also in the process of incorporating radiofrequency ablation of thyroid nodules into my endocrine surgical practice to help those patients with benign symptomatic thyroid nodules who desire to avoid thyroidectomy. 

In addition, we have come a long way with immunotherapy and targeted therapy for head and neck cancer. I have witnessed a very extensive cancer literally melting away before my eyes within weeks of immunotherapy. I am excited and looking forward to seeing what the future holds for these very promising advances. 

Do you have any advice for patients, or aspiring oral surgeons, based on your experience?

For aspiring oral surgeons, I would like to say it's definitely a journey worth taking. Everyday is an exciting challenge. The sense of reward and pride at the end of each day is what keeps me going. 

We as oral and maxillofacial surgeons have to constantly strive to excel and push the envelope in order to be as established as otolaryngology colleagues in head and neck surgery. We are in a unique position to offer our valuable expertise in these collaborative efforts to conquer the disease. So be proud and humble. 

About Beomjune (BJ) B. Kim, DMD, MD, FACS: Dr. Kim is Director of Head and Neck Surgery/Microvascular Reconstructive Surgery in the Department of Surgery at City of Hope - Atlanta.