Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi's multidisciplinary team performs minimally invasive procedure to treat “high-risk” elderly patient from India before travel restrictions
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. June 23, 2020: An increasing number of international patients are finding relief at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, as the leading tertiary care facility shows its capability to take on complex and critical cases in support of other hospitals around the world.
Dubai resident Samina Khanyari says she consulted some of the best doctors in India when her mother was diagnosed with colon cancer last year. Shamim Khanyari, her 73-year-old mother, was told that her preexisting medical conditions of diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, an atrial septal defect, a previous stroke, and atrial fibrillation would make it “too risky” for her to undergo surgery.
“We then considered taking her to America for treatment, but a friend suggested that we enquire about the oncology services at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, since it was closer to home. It was the best decision we have ever made for my mother's health, says Samina, her daughter.
Shamim presented to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi in 2019 with weakness and anemia caused by severe gastrointestinal bleeding, which had not been linked to cancer in the cecum – the pouch-like region that is present in the right colon – during endoscopy tests that were previously administered.
“My mother does not have a family history of cancer. She had two episodes of GI bleeding and in both cases her doctors back home recommended an upper endoscopy, which did not detect cancer, rather than a colonoscopy which ultimately did.”
The symptoms of cecum cancer can be nonspecific or even asymptomatic, but it may cause abdominal pain, gas and bloating, nausea and vomiting, and anemia. A colonoscopy is the most accurate way of detecting cancer of the cecum.
Dr. Shafik Sidani, the colorectal surgeon in the Digestive Disease Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi who led Shamim's surgery, says that they were fortunate to have caught the disease before metastasis occurred, which means that it hadn't spread to other parts of the body.
“She had lost a lot of blood because they weren't aware of the cancerous tumor in the cecum. She was very weak, and all her existing ailments and medical issues required a multidisciplinary approach to ensure optimum care and recovery,” he says.
The team, which included an oncologist, cardiologist, endocrinologist, pulmonologist and anesthesiologist, tested her overall fitness and heart health before deciding to perform a laparoscopic surgery to remove the tumor in 2019, before travel restrictions were put in place.
Dr. Shafik says the advantage of performing a minimally invasive procedure at her age were particularly significant, as it was less painful and led to earlier return of her intestinal function and normal activity.
“Shamim is recovering wonderfully. We will continue to monitor her with regular blood tests, annual CT scans and another colonoscopy after a year.”
Samina says the hospital's integrated approach to her mother's treatment was key to her swift recovery.
“As a family, we were very satisfied and had peace of mind that she was in extremely good hands. The gentleness and thoughtfulness shown by each staff member at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is commendable. My mother is doing well and is very happy with the outcome.”
Physicians in the UAE recommend that people above the age of 40 get regularly checked for colon cancer with tests including stool tests, CT colonography, or preferably colonoscopy. This advice is for those who do not have a family history of colon cancer, and who have no symptoms. Screening should commence 10 years earlier if there is a family history of the disease, and regular screenings are important because symptoms of colon cancer do not usually appear until the disease may have reached an advanced stage.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi continues to expand its oncology services with a growing team of specialists and innovative treatment options. In 2019, the hospital announced the construction of a dedicated oncology center, modelled on Cleveland Clinic's Taussig Cancer Center in the USA, which is set to open to patients in 2022.