The Sugarbaker procedure is a lengthy and controversial type of cancer surgery that involves cutting open the patient’s abdomen, removing organs and tumors, and then soaking the abdomen in chemotherapy drugs.
Jamaica has followed in the footsteps of The Bahamas and The Cayman Islands to become the third Caribbean island to carry out the procedure.
The procedure can tremendously increase the chances of survival for persons with advanced cancers.
According to a report by the Observer, the surgery was performed for the first time on the island just over two weeks ago by Dr Cherian Cherian, a member of a team of Jamaican doctors at the Kingston Public Hospital with the assistance of general surgeon and surgical oncologist Dr Wesley Francis from The Bahamas.
It was performed on a stage-four cancer patient who is in his 60s.
In an interview with the Jamaica Observer, Dr Cherian, admitting that the patient is not yet out of the woods, said that he is doing well and that they are taking it one step at a time.
“The prognosis for a patient with stage-four cancer is never good,” Dr Cherian said. “But with the Sugarbaker procedure, his chances have increased tremendously.”
The general surgeon explained that the Sugarbaker procedure targets malignancy from the abdominal cavity that has spread to the lining of the abdomen.
“We remove the peritoneal surface, which is the lining of the abdominal cavity; we remove any deposits that may be on organs, including the spleen,” Dr Cherian asserted. “The aim is to actually shrink the tumour mass to a volume such that chemotherapy, which is instilled in the abdomen at the typical temperature of 40 degrees Celsius, will be able to sufficiently manage in terms of oblation.
“So physically we oblate or remove, and chemically, with the use of chemotherapy, we further oblate,” Dr Cherian continued.
Formally called cytoreductive surgery, which is followed by hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy, the Sugarbaker procedure also removes “any obvious disease anywhere else”. For example, if the condition reaches the liver in a limited sense, then a piece of the liver is taken out and if it’s “a bowel, but it’s any significant bowel, we will take that segment of bowel.
“So literally it is a debulking procedure, but we debulk to its maximum in order to allow chemotherapy, with the aid of a pump, to sort of bathe the organs of the peritoneal cavity for at least an hour,” Dr Cherian disclosed.
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