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Reflections on Teaching Cancer in Africa- The Momentum in Morocco

April 25, 2018

Wells Messersmith, MD
​by David Raben, MD | Apr 25, 2018 | Latest News, Patient Care, Research 
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.