When talking about women and cancer, it is likely that breast cancer comes to mind for all of us, but there are other types of tumors that are hardly talked about and that, despite their numbers, seem to pass on tiptoe. They are gynecological cancers, among which are ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. The first is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women in Europe; the second, which represents more than 90% of cases of uterine cancer, is the fourth most frequent tumor in the female sex. According to the report Cancer figures in Spain, it is estimated that by the end of 2023 approximately 7,171 new cases will have been diagnosed in our country.
The data is grounding and puts us in context; afterwards, each case contains a personal story in which fear, doubts and loneliness should be able to be replaced by hope. “Esperanza is the name that can change the fate of patients with gynecological cancers, and it is the promise that there is a tomorrow, that there are things to come,” explains Manuela Domenech, commercial director of Solid Tumors at GSK. According to her, hope “is not just the last thing to be lost, but a feeling that allows us to approach the future, anticipate and, in a certain way, accelerate it.”
Anticipating cancer, but also accompanying patients throughout their journey through the disease, as well as working with the health professionals who treat and care for them. With this defined objective, the British multinational teamed up with Telefónica Empresas last year to design a medical education program that would train health professionals who care for ovarian or endometrial cancer patients on this path that goes from the first consultation to post-surgical decision-making, from prevention to survival.
From this union, and with the technology of the Malaga startup Vectorpipe as a base, OncoGYN emerged, a program that combines real-time and deferred multidisciplinary training in real patients, and which has the endorsement of the Spanish Ovarian Cancer Group (GEICO). and the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO). The multidisciplinary teams of the tumor committee of three public hospitals (Hospital de Bellvitge-Catalan Institute of Oncology, in Barcelona; Hospital de La Paz, in Madrid, and Hospital de La Fe, in Valencia) have joined the project, Doctors María Jesús Rubio and Manel Barahona, from the Hospital Reina Sofía (Córdoba) and Hospital de Puerto Real (Cádiz), respectively, have joined as advisers.
In this project, the concept of multidisciplinarity is key. After all, gynecological cancer requires a complex approach: along the way, the patient will go through stages in which surgery, imaging and blood tests, or different combinations of treatments will take place in the process. time. To this we must add both uncertainty and fear, says Charo Hierro, president of the Association of People Affected by Ovarian Cancer (Asaco): “There are women who have been suffering from all kinds of symptoms for months until they are diagnosed and, suddenly, They arrive from Primary Care to the hospital and feel alone and scared. For this reason, the optimal thing is that they are treated by expert multidisciplinary teams that accompany them from the beginning and that facilitate the diagnosis to arrive as soon as possible”.
The main raison d’être of the OncoGYN program is to make use of technology to try to ensure that there are no patients who do not have a center that offers a multidisciplinary approach within their reach.a (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
The existence of a multidisciplinary approach makes it possible to coordinate resources and incorporate knowledge from the different areas represented: oncological gynecological surgery, medical oncology, pathological anatomy, radiology, nursing, molecular biology, radiotherapy, nuclear medicine… “Today, we know that the determination Genetics, genomic instability and a precise study of the extent of the tumor, as well as knowledge of the surgical options and available treatments, are basic elements to improve patient survival. Therefore, having specialists in these areas and having them all work together allows us to get closer to the common objective: to extend the life of the patient as much as possible”, says Dr. Beatriz Pardo, a medical oncologist at the Catalan Institute of Oncology (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat ).
“The coordination ⎯continues⎯ also helps to make the work more efficient and allows us to accompany the patient with more knowledge of the phases she is going through and the needs she has.” For this reason, the OncoGYN program seeks to share the ways of working of these multidisciplinary teams, from the moment they study each case and share impressions and findings, until the patient has already undergone surgery and they have to discuss the results and treatments. later.
Eliminating all the disease has a positive impact on patient survival, which is why it is necessary for them to be treated by gynecologists who are highly specialized in these interventions, and who work in centers where there is a high volume of these surgeries.
Jordi Ponce, Head of the Gynecology Service at the Bellvitge University Hospital (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona)
Surgery, a critical phase
In gynecological tumors, surgery is a crucial phase that can affect the prognosis of patients. As Dr. Jordi Ponce, head of the Bellvitge University Hospital’s Gynecology Service, explains, “being able to eliminate all the disease has a positive impact on the survival of patients, which is why they need to be treated by gynecologists who are highly specialized in these interventions.” , and that they work in centers where there is a high volume of these surgeries”.
The experience of Dr. Ponce’s team will be joined in the program by those of the teams led by Dr. Alicia Hernández, from La Paz University Hospital, and by Dr. Santiago Domingo, from La Fe University Hospital. dealing with surgeries, because it is important to remember that, despite the fact that all of them are top-level reference centers and are accredited by the European Society of Gynecology Oncology (ESGO), not all multidisciplinary teams work in the same way nor are they organized in the same way, although they do share the objective of taking their knowledge to other centers and helping more patients.
Hence the raison d’être of OncoGYN, a program that makes use of technology to try to ensure that there is no patient who does not have a center that does a multidisciplinary approach within their reach. “We believe that OncoGYN is more than just a training program”, concludes Sara A. Pedraz, GSK Innovation Lead. “You can play an important role as a change agent and help us all walk with a common purpose: to transform cancer into hope together.”