Karen T. Brown, MD, FSIR

About Me

I have been a practicing interventional radiologist for more than 32 years and have been at MSK for most of that time. I use imaging guidance to perform minimally invasive procedures that might otherwise require surgery. There is often no need for general anesthesia or an incision, and typically there is a short recovery time.

Usually, the first time people with cancer meet an interventional radiologist is during an outpatient procedure. These procedures – which people can schedule directly with myself or one of my colleagues – allow us to quickly diagnose tumors and begin planning treatment. They also help us refer people to the MSK surgeon or oncologist who has expertise in their particular diagnosis so that they can get the best treatment.

I am known internationally for my expertise with tumors that started in or have spread to the liver. I have a special focus on hepatocellular cancer (hepatoma) and metastatic neuroendocrine tumors. I work very closely with a team of hepatobiliary surgeons, gastrointestinal oncologists, and radiation oncologists to determine the treatment that is most suitable for an individual patient. When possible, referrals are made for a liver transplant or surgery. For people who can’t have surgery, cancer within the liver can be treated and controlled using embolization. This involves shutting off the blood supply to a tumor. Since 1992, I have worked to refine this technique and have published several papers about it.

I was the primary investigator on a National Institutes of Health-funded trial. In this trial, we compared embolization alone with embolization combined with chemotherapy. This was the first randomized trial of a minimally invasive regional treatment for liver cancer conducted within North America. We published our results in 2016. We demonstrated that embolization alone was as effective as embolization with chemotherapy. This means that just embolization can be used, eliminating any chemotherapy-related side effects.

Using thermal ablative techniques, we can kill tumors with the local application of heat or cold. We can do this for tumors in the liver, lungs, kidneys, and bones. These techniques involve inserting a type of needle into a tumor with imaging guidance. The needle then heats or freezes the tumor, killing its cells. The goal is to kill the tumor while preserving the surrounding normal tissue.

I have published papers, spoken internationally, and taught courses on these topics. Caring for patients, however, is still my primary focus. I get to know my patients and their families. I spend time explaining what I think the proper procedure for them would be. We also discuss any alternatives. I try to make a difference in their lives and make them feel well cared for.

The correct treatment must take into account a person’s personal beliefs and desires. I work closely with the team of surgeons, oncologists, and radiation oncologists here at MSK and do not hesitate to refer my patients to them when needed. I do not perform radio-embolization but am happy to arrange for a patient to see one of my colleagues who does if I believe that is the best treatment. My goal each day is not only to perform procedures safely, efficiently, and with technical expertise but also to provide the best experience and best care possible for my patients.

  • Clinical Expertise: Vascular and Interventional Radiology
  • Awards and Honors: Castle Connolly: New York Magazine Top Doctors (2003, 2005-2012, 2016-2018); Castle Connolly: America's Top Doctors (2016-2018)
  • Languages Spoken: English
  • Education: MD, Boston University School of Medicine
  • Residencies: Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Fellowships: Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Board Certifications: Diagnostic Radiology; CAQ in Interventional Radiology


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Karen T. Brown’s journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.


Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicaid and New York State Medicare also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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