During this COVID-19 pandemic, there is uncertainty about the healthcare delivery for patients with liver, gallbladder and biliary cancers. It had been difficult to find liver surgeons who are willing to see patients immediately. As a liver specialist, we are fully aware of the situation and anxiety experienced by the patient and their family.
On the other hand, cancer care cannot wait. The liver, bile duct and gallbladder cancers are growing and potentially spreading to other organs, irrespective of the public health situation. Many hospitals and surgeons are hesitant to see patients in the office due to potential spread of virus. This has become an institutional policy in many hospitals or surgeon’s practices.
Dr. Sucandy and his colleagues are delivering surgical care to patients with liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, bile duct cancer during the COVID-19 pandemic, while adhering to the safety policy for all our healthcare workers. Our team are using adequate personal protective equipments designed to ensure safety for all our staff members. a In the past five weeks, we have been performing robotic biliary resection for Klatskin tumor, open bile duct cancer resection, laparoscopic liver cyst unroofing, robotic liver resection for colon cancer with liver metastasis, liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma, robotic gallbladder cancer resection, bile duct leak repair, and other liver tumor/liver cancer-related operations.
“Gallbladder cancer for example, is a highly malignant type of hepatobiliary cancer, which require a timely treatment in the form of liver resection and resection of the surrounding lymph nodes”, said Dr. Sucandy. The team of liver doctors within our liver cancer program are committed to provide the best care for patients without significant delay.
In the past three months, we have performed six robotic Klatskin tumor resections and four open Klatskin tumor resections for advanced biliary cancer requiring concomitant major liver resection. This allows those patients to undergo postoperative systemic chemotherapy sooner with end goal of achieving long-term survival.
Starting on 05/11/2020, we have restarted our elective operations including laparoscopic cholecystectomy for chronic cholecystitis, biliary dyskinesia, benign symptomatic liver tumor resection, as well as other complex general surgery and surgical oncology operations. We expect a high demand of our service after the virus pandemic.
Another very important aspect of liver Cancer Care is to know when to see a liver specialist?
Many patients do not know what liver cancer is and how to treat it. Benign or malignant liver tumors can be easily misdiagnosed and mishandled by non-liver specialists. One example, a hepatic adenoma or focal nodular hyperplasia require different management than a metastatic liver cancer. This issue can result in significant delay of cancer treatment.
In general, most patients are relying heavily on their primary care doctors or medical doctors to guide them towards a liver specialist or liver cancer doctor. Right upper quadrant abdominal pain, persistent nausea, unintentional weight loss, jaundice, dull ache around the upper back are signs of liver problems. Patients with these symptoms should seek an immediate medical attention.
Klatskin tumor or biliary tract cancer causes obstruction of the bile flow from the liver resulting in obstructive jaundice. This needs to be recognized and resolved immediately, since persistent/prolonged jaundice is a major risk factor for poor liver regeneration after liver surgery.
Dr. Sucandy and his colleagues are Tampa liver specialists, who are here to help you with liver, gallbladder, and biliary tumors.