Posted on October 27, 2014

Surgical techniques, best practices and latest developments in the management of colorectal cancer and liver metastasis were highlighted at the 3rd Colorectal Symposium hosted by Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). Cancer in the colon (large intestine) and rectum (last part of the digestive tract), collectively termed as colorectal cancer, is the second most common kind of cancer in Qatar, after breast cancer. It is more common in men over the age 40 years, but also develops in women.

Colorectal cancer is a treatable disease and the chances of a complete cure are higher when the tumors in the colon or rectum are detected early. According to international data, it can take up to 10 years or more for the tumors to develop malignancy. The three-day conference organized by HMC’s Colorectal Surgery Unit, which saw over 350 attendees, demonstrated that surgery is one of the key treatments for colorectal cancer. Coupled with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, surgery can play a pivotal role in enhancing survival rates and quality of life for patients affected by the disease.

During the conference, international, regional and local experts in the field, from countries such as Qatar, Germany, United States, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, shared new developments and updates in the surgical treatment of colorectal cancer as well as shed light on the treatment of liver metastasis, which is the spread of cancer cells from the colorectal region to the liver. A variety of topics were discussed in depth including colorectal cancer in the GCC, risks associated with colorectal cancer, surgical treatment for colorectal liver metastasis, palliative care and management of colorectal patients, the role of chemotherapy in colorectal liver disease, laparoscopic treatment for colorectal tumors and recovery after colorectal surgery.

Head of the Colorectal Surgery Unit at HMC and Senior Consultant in Colorectal Laparoscopic Surgery, Dr. Mohamed Abunada stated: “This symposium serves as part of our team’s endeavor to maintain and enhance the standard of services offered at HMC for the management of our patients with colorectal cancer and metastatic liver disease. We believe that creating this platform for leading surgeons from around the world to come together is essential to draw from each other’s experiences and collectively discuss new procedures and techniques being adopted globally.”

HMC Symposium highlights advances 2 [].jpgHighlighting the streamlined procedure for colorectal cancer patients at HMC, Dr. Abunada said that patients with a suspected cancer are highly prioritized at the unit. “Once they are referred to us we typically see them within 48 hours. Patient Pathway Coordinators at the hospital ensure that these patients receive prompt attention, including further investigations for confirmation.” He added that a multi-disciplinary team analyzes each case and develops an appropriate treatment plan and typically treatment begins within two weeks. According to data presented during the symposium, the Colorectal Surgery Unit at HMC has managed a total of 152 cases between July 2013 and July 2014. These included 110 colon cancer cases, 40 rectal cancer cases and two cases of anal canal carcinoma. The unit observed that the majority of cases were in patients aged 40 to 50 years.

Ms. Catherine Gillespie, Assistant Executive Director of Nursing for the National Centre for Cancer Care and Research stated: “Understanding the journey, for those of our patients with a cancer diagnosis, is key to ensuring that we are able to deliver knowledgeable and compassionate care. The contribution of nurses to the experience of patients with cancer cannot be underestimated. It is essential that we are able to support patients with up to date, evidence-based knowledge.” The conference’s scientific program included live transmissions of surgeries, which were broadcast from the operating theatre of the hospital to the auditorium, and presentations. The program also included the first laparoscopic liver resection procedure performed at HMC by Dr. Mohammad Abu Hilal, a Consultant from the Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, Southampton General Hospital, UK.

One of the renowned international colorectal cancer surgeons, Professor Ayman Agha, Chief of the Surgical Department at Klinikum Bogenhausen, Germany, commended the Colorectal Surgery team at HMC and acknowledged that the services available at HMC for the management of colorectal cancer are on par with international standards. He stated: “This is my 9th visit to Qatar and I am delighted to see the excellent progress made in this area. During this visit, along with the team of local surgeons, I have performed four complicated laparoscopic colon surgeries, including some on young patients.”

Another international surgeon who presented during the conference was Dr. Darius Mirza, Director of Liver Transplant and Hepatobiliary Services at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham University, UK. Among the regional speakers were: Dr. Tarek Amin, Head of Surgical Oncology at King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Centre (KFSHRC), Saudi Arabia; Dr. Nasser Al-Sanei, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at KFSHRC; Professor Dieter Broering, Chairman of Surgery and Director of Multiorgan Transplant Center at KFSHRC; and Dr. Alaa Abdul Jabar, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon and Deputy Chairman at the Department of Surgery, KFSHRC; Dr. Maher Abbas, FACS, FASCRS, Chief of Digestive Disease Institute, Cleveland Clinic, UAE; and Dr. Haytham Nabil El Salhat, Chief of Surgical Oncology and General Surgery, Tawam Hospital, UAE.

As part of the symposium, a special session was also arranged for the nursing staff, which was attended by over 200 nurses from across HMC. Advanced Clinical Nurse Specialists from HMC presented updates on the nursing care required for patients with a diagnosis of advanced colorectal cancer.