The Santa Fe de Bogota hospital in Colombia’s capital is one of few hospitals in Latin America that is able to treat advanced abdominal cancers such as colon, gynecological, and digestive cancers.
Dr. Fernando Arias, MD, a laparoscopic and oncological surgeon along with a local oncologist are offering a state-of-the art treatment; Cytoreductive Surgery with Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy (HIPEC).
This treatment, which is offered at less than 25 sites worldwide, and only three sites in Latin America, is a new ray of hope for people with advanced abdominal cancers.
Currently, the outlook for people with these conditions treated with conventional therapy is dismal; for patients with peritoneal carcinomatosis from colorectal cancer median survival time is six to eight months, with no five year survivors.
HIPEC, which emerged over a decade ago shows promising results; research documents five-year survival rates varying from 25 to 70%2. For the first time, some of these patients are hearing the word “cure.”
Dr. Arias and his team have been performing this marathon 12 to 18-hour procedure, which involves surgical removal of gross disease with abdominal lavage of heated chemotherapy to kill residual cancer cells since 2009, with over thirty cases, so far.
“I once sent a patient to the United States for this treatment, and when the patient came back, he asked, ‘Why didn’t you treat me?’” the surgeon told Colombia Reports.
According to Arias, this led him to seek out additional training in New York that would enable him to treat patients in Colombia.
The medic considers the rare treatment is a gain of monumental proportions not just for Colombians, but for the burgeoning Colombian medical tourism industry, attracting patients from other countries who would be unable to afford or otherwise access this life-saving treatment.
Author Kristin Eckland is an Acute Nurse Practitioner, currently researching medical tourism possibilities in Bogota.