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ASCO Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course in Azerbaijan: A Well-Attended Success


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The National Center of Oncology (NCO) in Azerbaijan partnered with ASCO, the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), and the Oncology Nursing Society (ONS) to conduct a highly successful Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course (MCMC) in September 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan. The conference focused on two primary cancer types—breast and head and neck—as well as a session on palliative care. Additional activities included an ONS-led oncology nursing training course, along with a tour of the state-of-the-art research and clinical facilities, and a meeting with the NCO Director General Jamil Aliyev, MD, PhD.

Jamil Aliyev, MD, PhD

Jamil Aliyev, MD, PhD

The NCO is the leading scientific research institute in Azerbaijan, responsible for the treatment of more than 90% of patients with cancer in the country. The center has 1,050 beds for the care of patients with cancer. The modern facilities allow provision of the highest level of international standards for treatment of cancer. The center has state-of-the-art radiology, surgery, infusion, and radiation oncology facilities, and houses a hospital-based cancer registry. In 2015, NCO was elected as a full member of the Union for International Cancer Control.

This was the first ASCO International MCMC held in Azerbaijan. ASCO International improves access to quality cancer care through a three-part global oncology strategy: cultivating and collaborating with oncology leaders around the world; working with those leaders to adapt and deliver quality improvement, education, and clinical training programs in their countries; and supporting and disseminating global oncology research that discovers new models to improve access to quality care in resource-limited settings.

The course objective was to improve cancer care with a multidisciplinary approach at the NCO and within the region. The 2-day course, held September 15–16, 2018, included didactic lectures, case presentations, and interactive sessions on head and neck and breast cancers. Reviews of recent practice-changing research and dialogue on current treatment approaches across all disciplines helped attendees improve their knowledge on multidisciplinary cancer management. More than 200 health-care providers specializing in oncology attended, including radiation and medical oncologists, surgeons, pathologists, nurses, medical students, and other health-care workers from Azerbaijan. Approximately 20 doctors from neighboring countries, including Iraq and Georgia, also attended the course.

Julie R. Gralow, MD, FASCO

Julie R. Gralow, MD, FASCO

The Azerbaijan MCMC course leaders included Dr. Aziz Aliyev, surgical oncologist and first Deputy Director of the NCO, and Dr. Narmin Talibova, medical oncologist and ASCO 2016 International Development and Education Award recipient. ASCO staff, including Ms. Vanessa Sarchet and Ms. Vanessa Eaton, worked closely with the course planning committee to conduct this course. ASCO faculty members included Julie R. Gralow, MD, FASCO (breast medical oncology), of the University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance; David Raben, MD (radiation oncology), of the University of Colorado; Herbert Loong, MBBS, MRCP, FHKCP, FHKAM (medical oncology), of the Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Carlos Garcia-Etienne, MD (breast surgery), of Policlinico San Matteo, Italy. ASCP was represented by Tan Ince, MD, PhD (pathology), of the University of Miami. ONS faculty included Mr. Stefan Terwindt (specialist in International Affairs, ONS), Ms. Colleen O’Leary of The Ohio State University James Cancer Hospital, and Ms. Jeanie Rosiak of Aurora Health Care. In addition to Drs. Aliyev and Talibova, local faculty included Dr. Elkhan Kazimov, Dr. Samira Mahmudova, Dr. Ulviyya Nabizade, Dr. Gunel Haji, and Dr. Javid Garibov.

Stefan Terwindt, MBA

Stefan Terwindt, MBA

Dr. Gralow commented, “This course was an unequivocal success. Case discussions regarding how to optimize cancer management and enhance communication and shared decision-making between disciplines, specialties, and patients were highly interactive. The question-and-answer sessions were lively, and focused on evidence and best practice. We all, including the faculty, came away with knowledge and new ideas that will change our practices and improve outcomes for our patients.”

Ms. Rosiak, an ONS faculty member, commented, “We were happy to see so many disciplines represented, and have nursing recognized and involved in this event. There are more similarities than differences in our respective practices. Even though in many instances we do not speak the same language, similarities in the way we care for our patients were readily communicated. We are hopeful that nursing is included in future interdisciplinary presentations in Azerbaijan, and that ONS will have ongoing opportunities to collaborate on exchanging information and experiences with the nurses there.”

Preceding the ASCO MCMC, on September 14, 2018, a course on “The Role of the Nurse in Symptom Management of Patients With Cancer” was held at NCO with the support of ONS. It was the first international event conducted for nurses in Azerbaijan. ONS faculty included Mr. Terwindt, Ms. O’Leary, and Ms. Rosiak.

Dr. Julie R. Gralow, Dr. Carlos Garcia-Etienne, and Ms. Jeanie Rosiak with Dr. Isa Isayev (head of the Radiotherapy Department) during their visit to NCO’s Radiotherapy Department.

Approximately 70 nurses attended the course and improved their knowledge on symptom management in oncology. The course was interactive, with group activities, and ONS faculty received positive feedback from all participants.

“We were very impressed with the enthusiasm and engagement of the nurses. They were so knowledgeable about oncology and management of symptoms of the diseases and treatments, and eager to share their expertise during the case study exercises of the presentation,” Ms. Rosiak said.

In conclusion, the ASCO MCMC was very useful for cancer care specialists in Azerbaijan. Faculty and attendees felt that this course was beneficial in improving cancer care through the promotion of a multidisciplinary approach. Oncology specialists worldwide have the common goal of helping patients achieve the best chance of survival and the best possible quality of life. Collaboration and communication across disciplines can help us achieve this goal. The NCO in Azerbaijan has already discussed with ASCO holding this type of course again in 2 years, and on a recurring basis.

Originally published in ASCO Connection. © American Society of Clinical Oncology. “ASCO Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course in Azerbaijan: A Well-Attended Success.” ASCO Connection, January 2019. All rights reserved.


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