United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi – 27 December 2016: Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi recently performed a complicated surgery as part of an integrated approach to successfully treat a patient suffering from advanced stage 3 rectal cancer. The surgery was an important part to treat Mrs. FES’ condition after she was referred to Burjeel Hospital’s Oncology Center in January earlier this year.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer seen across the world, and is often seen in individuals above the age of 50. People who are overweight and eat a diet high in processed meats or do not exercise enough are at a high risk of this disease. Symptoms of the disease include persistent diarrhea or constipation, a change in the consistency of stools, abdominal cramps, and rectal bleeding.
These symptoms, particularly rectal bleeding, were observed in the 55-year-old patient. A colonoscopy (an endoscopic procedure to examine the large bowel and distal part of small bowel) carried out to investigate these symptoms revealed a tumor in the distal part of the rectum above the anus. Further investigations with an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scans confirmed the presence of an expansive tumor and the spread of cancer to the surrounding lymph nodes - a typical sign of a locally advanced disease.
Mrs. FES was then referred to Burjeel Hospital’s Center for Minimally Invasive and Scarless Surgery, which specializes in oncological and colorectal surgery among other disciplines. The patient consulted Prof. Dr. Tahar Benhidjeb, Consultant - General Surgery, Chairman - Department of Surgery and Deputy Medical Director, Burjeel Hospital Abu Dhabi, and the course of the consultation revealed that she had neglected the symptoms for a long time.
“This is very common in this part of the world where culturally, women tend not to reveal their problems, or seek medical attention until the issue cannot be ignored anymore. Lack of awareness is a major concern too. Catching the disease early can increase the chances of survival. In addition, symptoms related to rectal cancer do not emerge until the disease advances, which makes it easier to miss as a sign of something more serious,” said Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb.
He added, “Mrs. FES underwent a procedure in another facility before coming to us, where doctors informed her that 60 per cent of her tumor was removed. But when dealing with a disease of such proportions, this conclusion may be inaccurate and risky. Cancer should not and can never be treated with a “half-hearted” approach. The former medical procedure caused great pain to the patient who required strong medications to manage it.”
A specialized team of doctors, including surgeons, oncologists, gynecologists, histopathologists and radiologists, was consulted to determine the best approach in treating Mrs. FES. Since the tumor has advanced locally, the patient received a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy for six months to reduce the mass of the tumor before she underwent surgery.
“This form of neo-adjuvant radio- and chemotherapy was recommended to prompt a better outcome and higher survival rate for patients with advanced cancer. It is also an important step in reducing the tumor to a size that is operable,” said Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb.
Following the course of radio- and chemotherapy, Mrs. FES was operated by Prof. Dr. Benhidjeb and his team. “Mrs. FES’s health and comfort were a priority throughout her surgery and overall treatment. She was made comfortable and every aspect of her surgery was explained to her to ensure that she was receiving the most effective treatment to lead a cancer-free life. The surgery was performed minimally invasive (key-hole method) by using 4 small abdominal incisions between 5mm and 12mm instead of a 20cm long incision.
“During the surgery, we removed a huge segment of the distal part of the large bowel including the tumor. We also performed a colostomy (a permanent placement of the end of the large intestine through the anterior wall) as an alternative channel to allow stools to exit the body. This kind of sophisticated and extensive surgery is the only way to address aggressive tumors, and was carried out according to the latest international guidelines and standards,” he said.
Mrs. FES is now recovering really well and is receiving another course of chemotherapy at Burjeel Hospital’s Oncology Center to prevent the cancer from recurring.
Mrs. FES is very grateful with the results and the level of care she received. “I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and gratitude to Burjeel team for the successful procedure. They have given me a second chance at life. My family and I cannot ask for anything more.”