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SQCCCRC, Genuine and Dedicated Efforts to Achieve Integrated Care of Cancer Patients

As we celebrate the World Cancer Day this 4th February 2024, Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center, (SQCCCRC) continues to exert its ongoing efforts to combat cancer and reduce its impact on individuals and communities around the world.  SQCCCRC’s approach to cancer prevention and care is the essence of celebrating World Cancer Day.  The Center’s initiative aimed at raising awareness about cancer, promoting early detection, prevention and treatment, and advocating for improved access to health care services for cancer patients understanding the inequities in cancer care and making the necessary progress to address them.

SQCCCRC provides high-quality healthcare medical services to all its cancer patients and their families through its “six treatment programs” dealing with solid cancers, providing medical care that includes the latest therapeutic methods, educating and raising awareness of patients, and providing them with psychological, rehabilitative and counseling support. The Center conducts scientific research contributing to finding beyond effective ways to treat cancer diseases, in addition to training of specialized Omani cadres preparing them to continue serving patients with the highest standard of medical care in treating their cancer diseases.

Gynecological Cancers Program 

The Gynecological Cancers Program is one of the six treatment programs of cancers at SQCCCRC that are based on the cooperation of a multidisciplinary team from various specialties to study the case from all aspects at the same time, each according to their specialty. The Gynecological Cancers Program receives cases with endometrial cancer, ovarian cancer, cervical cancer, and placenta cancer.  

 Dr. Moza Abdullah Al Kalbani, Senior Consultant Surgical Oncology at SQCCCRC, said: “The Gynecological Cancer Program team includes a distinguished staff who works as a regular point of contact to guide and support the patient psychologically beside the treatment program, and plays integrated roles in the comprehensive care process that we provide to patients. ” 

 Dr. Khadra Jalal, Senior Consultant Gynecologic Oncology Surgeon at SQCCCRC, indicated that the Gynecologic Cancers Program team is working hard to be the “nucleus of excellence Center in Gynecologic Oncology,” seeking to achieve a number of goals, the most notable of which are: Providing advisory and therapeutic service for gynecologic oncology cases at the region level with high-quality standards in line with the standards of international centers, improving the quality of health care provided to those recovering, and helping them adapt to their lives after recovery.  

Dr khadra added: “The program recently opened a clinic specializing in endoscopy, which specializes in prevention tests and early detection of cervical cancers and their precursors. The program team also contributes to the design of clinical trials and takes part in national clinical research programs, all of which aim to understand women’s cancers and find new and better ways to treat them, including research studying the effectiveness of self-examination in early detection of cervical cancer.” 

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Breast Cancers Program 

In 2023, SQCCCRC has received 1145 patients with breast cancer which is the most common life-threatening cancer discovered among women in Oman. The age at which Omani women are diagnosed is young at ~49 years. Unfortunately, they tend to be diagnosed at later stages of the disease despite the readily available resources for diagnosis.  

At SQCCCRC, the Breast-One-Stop Clinic has been set up to ease prompt diagnosis and initiation of treatment using a multidisciplinary strategy.  In the same setting, a patient is seen and examined by a consultant breast surgeon and completes triple assessment of any suspicious changes detected in the breasts under the guidance of our experienced radiologists. 

Dr Suhaila Al Farsi, Medical Oncology Consultant, said: “The Breast Cancer Program at SQCCCRC provides evidence-based and state-of-the-art therapies that have revolutionized breast cancer care over the last few years. These advancements include oncoplastic surgical techniques, systemic treatment such as antibody drug conjugates and immunotherapy as well as radiation therapy techniques that ensure pinpoint accuracy and precision to preserve as much healthy tissue possible surrounding the tumor. Also, our patients have the advantage of volunteering to take part in clinical trials with new treatment options that may become future treatment for breast cancer.” 

“Furthermore, genetic counselling and testing, is offered to all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients.  Although 5-10% of breast cancers are inherited, a detected mutation may be used to personalize management and predict which treatments are likely to be the most effective for our patients,” she added. 

Dr Al Farsi confirmed that the breast cancer program is committed to supporting the patient every step of the way, by ensuring they receive best and ultramodern medical care but also to feel cared for as an individual, not just as a patient. One of these steps is through empowering them with knowledge about their disease through patient education sessions led by our multidisciplinary teams as well as organizing community awareness campaigns such as the health symposium on early detection of breast cancer in cooperation with Oman Breast Cancer Society and Ministry of Health.” 

Gastrointestinal Cancers Program 

During the past year, the SQCCCRC’s gastrointestinal cancer program received 1,341 patients. The cases were distributed among colorectal cancer (the most common in the Sultanate of Oman), followed by esophageal and stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, bile duct cancer, and all types of liver cancers. 

 Dr. Abdullah bin Ali Al Rawahi, consultant in upper gastrointestinal surgery at SQCCCRC, explained that the Center uses the latest internationally recognized medical treatments to treat cases of gastrointestinal cancers, which are: chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and consolidation between chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery in cases of tumors of the esophagus and rectum, and the combination of chemotherapy and surgery in the treatment of tumors of the stomach, colon, liver, and pancreas.  

 In this regard, the program’s surgical team was able to perform a number of advanced therapeutic interventions for patients, including performing precise operations using laparoscopic surgery to remove tumors of the esophagus and pancreas, which contributed to reducing side effects and shortening the patient’s recovery time, and starting laparoscopic Pressurized Intraperitoneal Aerosolized Chemotherapy (PIPAC) for the first time in the Sultanate of Oman to treat abdominal tumors, in addition to introducing the radiosurgery service to treat mobile cancerous tumors in the lung using the Cyberknife device. 

Head, Neck, and Thoracic Cavity Cancers Program  

 The Head, Neck and Thoracic Cavity Cancer Program provides comprehensive and integrated care for three different parts of the body: the head and neck, the nervous system and spine, the lung and the rib cage.  

 Dr. Jumaa bin Ali Al-Kasbi, a consultant in surgical oncology at SQCCCRC, points out that the program received 821 patients over the past year, with non-small-cell lung cancer at the forefront of cases, followed by brain and spinal cord cancers of the glioblastoma type. The program also deals with tumors and cancers of the thyroid gland on the surgical side.  

He said that radioactive iodine treatment is used after surgery, and it also treats tumors and cancers in the salivary glands and neck, such as nasopharyngeal tumors, tongue tumors, and larynx. The radiation team receives patients of the head, neck, throat, and brain tumors as well, and occupational therapy forms another part of the treatment program for patients after radiosurgery.  

 Al Kasbi explained: “During the past year, the program achieved a series of notable medical achievements, including the adoption of adjuvant treatment before major surgery for lung cancer patients, which includes chemotherapy and immunotherapy followed by surgical treatment. The technique of removing the sentinel lymphocyte for tongue tumors was also used, which is a surgical technique that has been approved. It has been used for years in breast and skin cancers and has recently been introduced as an alternative possibility for diagnosing the spread of lingual tumor to the cervical lymph nodes. 

He said: A large group of patients have benefited from “Cyberknife” technology, which is a robotic radiosurgery system directed at cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, adding that scientific research forms an essential part of the program team’s work, as the latest research studies the effect of immunotherapy on lung function, and the use of /68 Ga-DOTATATE / to treat advanced thyroid diseases, and other studies that will contribute to the development of future treatments. 

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GenitourinaryCancers Program 

The SQCCCRC Genitourinary Cancers Programs  received 487 cases over the past year.  Dr Suliman Al Sadi, Medical Oncology Consultant, said:   “The program treats diverse range of tumors,  each with distinct features,  presenting a set of challenges  that requires a personalized and multidisciplinary approach. These tumors include prostate, bladder, kidney, and testicular cancers. The most common cancer we treat in our clinic is prostate cancer. Our approach towards diagnosing and managing patients involves a patient-centric and multidisciplinary strategy, using a variety of therapeutic modalities, including surgical, radiation, and systemic therapies. 

“Keeping up with advances in diagnostic techniques, our program recently introduced the trans perineal prostate biopsy for the first time in Oman (which is associated with decreased rates of infection) as well as the PSMA PET scan which is a more sensitive staging modality for newly diagnosed prostate cancer,” He added. 

He explained: “With regard to treatment, our surgical team has had experience in performing minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries like cystectomies, adrenalectomies, as well as bigger surgeries such as retroperitoneal lymph node dissections. Notably, we have recently performed the first laparoscopic prostatectomy in the country with a favorable treatment outcome.” 

The Radiation Oncology department introduced the LDR brachytherapy (radiation beads) to treat localized prostate cancer, for the first time in the region. We have also introduced new systemic treatment modalities such as the Lutetium-177 PSMA therapy in collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine department to treat prostate cancer patients in the late stages of the disease.  

Al Sadi added: “Additionally, we prioritize community awareness and education as one of our most important roles, for which we have organized multiple GU cancer awareness campaigns as well as urologic malignancy research and training events. We look forward to most accomplishments with the coming year, to ensure continuous advancement in services provided to our patients in keeping with state-of-the-art international standards.” 

Rare Tumors Program 

Rare soft tissue tumors are considered as a challenge in cancer care. This is because of the difficulty in their diagnosis and treatment. Few centers worldwide treat these types of cancer given their rarity and the complexity of treatment.  

Dr Mohammed Al Hosni, consultant surgical oncologist said: “The program of rare tumors at SQCCCRC gathers experts from different specialties evaluating and managing rare soft tissue tumors. Expert surgeons, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, radiologists and pathologists form a multidisciplinary team to optimize care for affected patients. Experienced nurses, pharmacists, psychotherapists, and physiotherapists help patients throughout their journey of treatment. Since the opening of the Center, team has managed all referred cases of sarcoma, melanoma, and primary peritoneal surface malignancies.” 

He pointed out different modalities of treatment have been implanted.  Highly precise radiotherapy treatment is used to help reduce surgical burden and improve outcome. This is delivered using the latest technologies and updated machines. Rare soft tissue tumors are looked at molecular and genetic levels and targeted tailored medical treatment is offered to patients according to these analyses.   

He explained, Trunk and Limbs sarcoma are operated with short stay hospitalization. Large retroperitoneal sarcoma surgeries become a routine practice with enhanced recovery protocols. The team has performed several complex multivesicular resections with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy surgeries for peritoneal malignancies.   

He confirmed: “Several research efforts within the team are looking at the distribution of these rare pathologies in the country, possible genetic potentials, and differences with worldwide described diseases. Tissue molecular properties are analyzed with the response to treatment to aim orienting future studies. These studies will hopefully look at these unique pathologies from patient/pathology specific aspects.” 

International Standards 

In less than three years, Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center has established its name in a prominent position among its counterparts in providing care for cancer patients regionally and internationally. The JCI accreditation received in June 2023 is a testimony of the high quality of health services it delivers and the application of international best practices in clinical service, patient safety, and the efficiency of medical and administrative staff. 

The Center looks to move forward in increasing its medical and scientific achievements, with its experienced staff, modern technical capabilities, and its vision of not only treating the patient, but rather achieving quality of life for patient and his family. 

Today, on World Cancer Day, let us all commit to reducing our cancer risk and help our love family to look forward to a healthier and brighter future.

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