It hardly seems possible that it has been a little over a year since Wells Messersmith, MD, and I journeyed to Marrakech as part of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course with a focus on colorectal and anal cancer. As I continue to work with ASCO along with various oncology colleagues around the world in different disciplines, I reflected on our journey across the Atlantic to northern Africa. ASCO partnered with Mohammed VI University Hospital to present a three-day Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course from February 23rd – 25th, 2017. Joined by an incredible staff from ASCO led by Vanessa Eaton, Wells and I were struck by the passion oncologists had brought from all over Morocco and even from additional countries such as Jordan and Egypt. The smells of the souks and the warm hospitality from our guests with meals that tantalized the palates enriched our back and forth exchanges on cancer management. We were also able to visit one of their main cancer wards and see their operational capabilities. I had a particular interest in their radiation therapy facilities. Wells and I were amazed at how our colleagues in Marrakech make do with so much less than what we have at our fingertips here at CU Anschutz.
A considerable amount of information was disseminated over the approximately three days with morning to evening lectures as well as breakout sessions. More than 180 oncologists joined us for discussions, didactics and brilliant Moroccan mint tea. In this regard, I was able to work with a French company that allowed me to download and circulate some lower GI cases and had radiation oncologists contour tumors and lymph node basins as well as normal structures. Together we reviewed the volumes with the participating audience, and overlaid them to my planning volumes – an enlightening experience with wonderful give and take considerations. Wells really brought his “A” game and provided clear, concise reviews and suggestions on case management and it was obvious that despite our jet lag he was truly engaged and passionate about “teaching the t
The feedback was quite interesting. Many women attended this course and a majority were radiation oncology trained! Approximately 78% of respondents said that they planned to make practice changes based on what they learned in the course. These included changes to palliative care as well as adopting a multidisciplinary approach to cancer management. In addition, 96% of respondents said they understand better how multidisciplinary teams work together to provide quality care; 94% said they plan to consult with specialists to determine best treatment approaches for their patients; and 94% agreed that they felt more confident in their ability to treat local cancer types. This was quite gratifying. I feel fortunate to have made new acquaintances and hope to have visitors from Morocco in the future to our cancer center to see how our multi-disciplinary management teams work. Giving back to areas underserved (or paying it forward) is something Wells and I realized is part of the wonderful opportunities cancer physicians have at their fingertips to enrich learning around the world. On to the next ASCO MCMC journey.