Understanding women’s cancer issues around the world

LHSC welcomes Dr. Dessai from India

October 11, 2012

Over the past 11 days, Dr. Michel Prefontaine, gynecologic oncologist, LHSC, and the London Regional Cancer Program hosted Dr. Sampada Dessai from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India. Dessai was at LHSC as part of The Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada’s (GOC) observership program.

“This observership should provide both Dr. Dessai and the team of physicians in London an excellent opportunity to mutually exchange on the challenges and issues of providing care to women with gynecological cancer.” said Dr. Prefontaine.

 “I have been surprised by the similarities in our approach to treating patients,” says Dr. Dessai. “The largest difference is the counseling cancer patients receive in London is more extensive than in India largely due to patient volumes."

Dr. Prefontaine with Dr. Dessai
From left, Dr. Michel Prefontaine, gynecologic oncologist, LHSC, and Dr. Sampada Dessai from Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India discuss patient cases and approaches to treatment.

Another difference is in the type of cancer most commonly treated in India and Canada. “In India we treat more women for cervical cancer because there is a lack of screening. In Canada more women are treated for endometrial cancer which is associated with obesity,” adds Dessai. 

Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai treats nearly as many cancer patients in a year as the entirety of Canada. Tata Memorial Hospital not only has a catchment area of Mumbai, which has a population of five million, but it also treats patients in the nearest neighbouring countries.

14 physicians from 8 countries are doing an observership in a Canadian cancer centre simultaneously.  From Newfoundland to British Columbia; physicians from Benin, Uganda, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Nepal and India will be creating ties with Canadian teams in St. John’s, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, London, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria. 

Next for Doctors Prefontaine and Dessai  is attending the 14th Biennial Meeting of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS) that will be held in Vancouver from October 13 to 16. “The conference is an opportunity to connect and collaborate with people who take care of women’s cancers around the world,” says Prefontaine.

Dessai’s last day at LHSC is on October 11, but she says she would be happy to return for more training and for a longer period of time.