Recently, Dr. Garry Hammer, director of endocrine tumor research group in Comprehensive Cancer Centre of University of Michigan took part in the consultation with Fuda medical team for an adrenocortical carcinoma patient. He also gave a talk and shared his experience on treating this disease.
Comprehensive Cancer Center of University of Michigan has been leading the world in researching and treating adrenocortical carcinoma. Professor Hammer, top expert in this field who has been dedicated to researching and treating adrenocortical carcinoma.
Professor Hammer giving a lecture at Fuda
“Death sentence” devastates him
Before the consultation, Dr. Hammer firstly learned about the patient’s condition.
Two years ago, Mr. C who was just above 50 years old was found to have a mass measuring 6.8*5.5*6.5cm in left adrenal gland. Shocked though, he had a surgery in Shanghai soon after. The postoperative pathology indicated adrenocortical carcinoma.
After the surgery, doctors didn’t ask him to do any other adjuvant treatments, so Mr. C thought that there was nothing to worry about and went back to work. However, a bigger tumor was detected after one year. CT examination indicated multiple space-occupying foci in left abdominal cavity and adrenal gland area. Mr. C had the tumor cut again.
He is familiar with common cancers like colon cancer, lung cancer and liver cancer as there were several people in his family having cancer, yet he had never heard of adrenocortical carcinoma.
Adrenal gland is one of the important endocrinal organs. There are two adrenal glands in human body, which are against in each kidney. Adrenal tumors can be divided into benign tumor and malignant tumor in terms of nature, non-functional tumor and functional tumor regarding whether it has endocrine function (e.g. secret a hormone that causes high blood pressure), and cortical tumor, medullary tumor, stromal tumor and metastatic tumor in terms of developing part.
A cancer expert in Shanghai told Mr. C that adrenocortical carcinoma was rare and it is likely to relapse, and for now there was no effective treatment. These words sounded like “death sentence”, making him devastated. His wife suggested seeking medical care in world-famous cancer hospitals. Accompanied by his wife, he firstly went to Hong Kong for treatment, and then he flew to America and was treated in Cleveland Clinic. After he took three-month targeted drug, his condition was temporally controlled.
Can doctors at Fuda accept this challenge?
Nevertheless, not long after he returned to China, Mr. C found the tumor enlarged. His wife advised to go to America for treatment again, but Mr. C had his own plan. He recalled that Chinese-American Prof. Zeng recommended his tutor Prof. Xu Kecheng who was the chief president of Guangzhou Fuda Cancer Hospital several times and suggested him to accept treatment at Guangzhou nearby during treatment in the US.
What could a private cancer hospital bring to him? With this question, Mr. C was admitted to Fuda Cancer Hospital in April.
“The patient had had two resections and received molecular targeted drug therapy. The checkup after admission indicated multiple masses in abdominal cavity were larger than before. It is really a challenge to us.” Dr. Niu Lizhi said.
Related doctors were organized to discuss the case. The medical group thought Mr. C was no longer suitable for traditional resection after they accessed his condition. Though Mr. C’s disease was rare, the tumor developed mostly in abdominal cavity, and local ablation therapy was the best choice.
President Niu Lizhi explained that local ablation is an important progress of cancer treatment in 21st century that provides an effective treatment for those patients whose tumors couldn’t be removed by surgery or who couldn’t stand surgery. Compared with traditional treatment, local ablation techniques like argon-helium cryosurgery and irreversible electroporation (Nanoknife treatment) were less invasive to patients and safer. Nanoknife therapy in particular had many advantages. It was a brand new cutting-edge tumor ablation technique. It only kills bad “cells”, without damaging blood vessel wall, nerve, intestinal canal, bile duct, etc. Besides, the ablation procedure could be clearly presented by ultrasound, CT or MR imaging, which could ensure the best effect of ablation.
After the comprehensive treatments including local ablation and brachytherapy, most tumors in Mr. C’s body were inactive.
American expert couldn’t stop praising
In Ward No.5 of Fuda Cancer Hospital, Professor Hammer, President Xu Kecheng and Dr. Niu Lizhi joined the consultation for Mr. C. To his surprise, the patient standing before him looked quite fit.
Professor Hammer (Right 5) praising Fuda medical team
Professor Hammer examined Mr. C carefully, and he was surprised at his recovering condition, “We have received nearly a thousand patients with this disease, but few have controlled their conditions as well as you do. You’ve met a fantastic medical team.”
“Adrenocortical carcinoma is very rare. At Cancer Center of University of Michigan, we receive about a hundred patients with adrenocortical carcinoma every year from all over the world, but the curative effect as good as Mr. C was rarely seen.” said Professor Hammer. He expressed that they would make more medical exchanges with Guangzhou Fuda Cancer Hospital and help more patients.
What made Professor Hammer more amazed was that Fuda medical team not only cares patient’s treatments, but also has scientific spirit. They found a hereditary disease in Mr. C’s family--Lynch syndrome. This could help his family members to prevent or reduce the developing of cancer by taking preventive measures. As an old saying goes “prevention is better than cure”.
From Shanghai to Hong Kong, then America and finally Guangzhou Fuda, when looking back his two-year experience of seeking for treatments, Mr. C had been through sadness and hesitation, yet his biggest feeling had been gratitude. He said sincerely, “I can’t recover so well without Fuda medical team’s dedicated work. This is the hospital I want, and these are the doctors I am looking for. I believe I can live with cancer and have a long happy life.”