New clinic at The Princess Margaret brings together liver cancer specialists to improve patient care

07/03/2018


Dr. Laura Dawson and her team at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre have developed a new multi-disciplinary clinic that will be a one-stop shop for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

The clinic brings together everyone from medical and surgical oncologists to interventional radiologists to help streamline the process for patients and improve outcomes.
 
“It will be a place where patients can see many specialists at one time and leave the clinic with a plan,” says Dr. Dawson, a radiation oncologist who is heading up the clinic with Dr. Gonzalo Sapisochin, a surgical oncologist also with The Princess Margaret.


HCC is the most common form of liver cancer and one that is very challenging to treat, often requiring a wide range of specialists. 

Dr. Dawson explains that many patients with liver cancer have underlying liver disease, so not only do they need to see an oncologist, they also need to be treated by a hepatologist, an expert in cirrhosis and liver disease. 

Previously, patients would need multiple appointments to receive the same level of care. 

“From a patient perspective seeing everyone at one time I think makes sense and we should be doing that for all cancers but logistically it’s a little challenging … and I think with liver cancer, we really have the people and the support we can do that,” says Dr. Dawson.

It also allows the specialists to learn from each other and help develop research and clinical strategies that will better help individual patients.

The clinic has launched with a pilot plan to treat a small subset of patients who have early stage cancer with advanced liver disease who may be candidates for a liver transplant. 

The hope is that eventually all new patients with liver cancer be seen at The Princess Margaret and be treated in this way. 

“Having a clinic that involves so many specialists for this disease is very unique and our vision is bigger than just one multi-disciplinary clinic. This is something that only centres like The Princess Margaret can do because we have so many caregivers for patients.”