Doctors in Dubai saved the life of a man with pancreatic cancer using a rare technique known as the Whipple procedure.
The operation – known medically as a pancreaticoduodenectomy – removes the head of the pancreas, the first part of the small intestine, the gallbladder and bile duct.
The remaining organs are then reattached to allow food to be digested normally.
Paul Morris, 73, a retired army professional who still lives in Baghdad, decided to travel to Dubai to receive cancer care instead of to his home country, the US, owing to the high numberof Covid-19 cases.
“The Whipple operation is a lifesaving procedure, and patients that do well in the first seven days post-surgery often see the most successful recovery rates,” professor of surgery Dr Ali Al Dameh said.
He performed the lifesaving surgery on Mr Morris with his colleague Dr Imran Al Haq.
“Moreover, early-stage detection of cancers often provides the best chance of treatment and cure," Dr Al Dameh said.
The operation was carried out on March 2 at American Hospital Dubai.
“Around three to five years back, patients diagnosed with [this type of] cancer would not have much help,” Dr Ali said.
“However, the possibility of performing such complex surgical procedures like the Whipple operation now allows people to battle the tumours with a high level of success rate and fewer chances of complications.”
A notoriously fatal form of cancer, up to 10 per cent of patients who receive an early diagnosis become disease-free after treatment. For patients who are diagnosed before the tumour grows significantly or spreads, the average pancreatic cancer survival time is up to 3.5 years.
Dr Ali said, in older patients, the tumour's position can make it a challenging and risky surgery. In addition, diagnosing the cancer condition at such a late stage makes patient recovery even harder.
“It gives me great satisfaction to be able to provide a new hope of recovery to the cancer patients, who are usually traumatised emotionally, psychologically, socially and professionally, when they learn about their disease,” Dr Ali said.
“Mr Morris was discharged on day seven of his operation and is recovering well with no complications.”