Innovation, collaboration and an understanding of Qatar’s cultural landscape are key to Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) success in providing world-class cancer care, according to radiation oncology expert Dr. Noora Al Hammadi at HMC’s National Center for Cancer Care and Research (NCCCR).
Dr. Al Hammadi, Senior Consultant and Chair of the NCCCR’s Radiation Oncology Department, believes much of this success is due to the vital role of Qatari clinical expertise in building a world-class healthcare system.
“Qatari physicians best understand the cultural context of Qatar, the local Qatari population and its experiences and perceptions. It is essential that we continue to build and mentor our younger Qatari physicians to assume future leadership roles. Our healthcare team encompasses many wonderful team members from many different nationalities – we must ensure that among them, there are visible Qataris contributing and leading efforts towards building a world-class healthcare system,” she said.
Dr. Al Hammadi, who trained at the renowned Germany-based Heidelberg University Clinic, highlighted the advances HMC has made over the last five years to tackle cancer at every stage of the patient journey. These advances include the introduction of community education and public awareness programs to stress the importance of cancer prevention and early diagnosis, as well as initiatives to increase access to screening programs and the provision of the best technology and equipment for diagnosis and treatment.
Today, every cancer patient who is treated at HMC is managed by a multi-disciplinary team of experts who are specialists in managing that patient’s particular type of cancer.
Dr. Al Hammadi said, “Seeing patients battle cancer and having the privilege of being part of their journey has made me focus as a physician leader on ensuring that they have access to the best possible treatment and the most humane care. Being part of and leading a team has also taught me the importance of facilitating collaboration and bringing out the best in those I work with, to deliver the most technologically advanced care delivered with compassion.”
Dr Al Hammadi also stressed the importance of the roles played by innovation and technology in the provision of cancer care. She said: “Innovation and technology are critical to excellent cancer care. Advances occur continuously, and we make strides every day in terms of improving outcomes for our patients through new diagnostic and therapeutic techniques. As a clinician and leader, one of my proudest achievements is implementing MRI-guided radiation therapy. We are one of the first centers in the world to deploy this technology for widespread radiotherapy treatment planning, and currently the only center in the entire region to extend the application of this technology to treating bone metastases through MRI-guided high intensity focused ultrasound.”
Dr Hammadi added: “HMC has also pioneered minimally invasive surgical techniques as well as the use of advanced imaging to guide therapies. The Radiation Oncology Department, based at the NCCCR, is one of the most technologically advanced in the world, with an increasing global reputation for innovative care. In terms of chemotherapy, NCCCR offers the most modern drug therapies for patients.”
Expanding on HMC’s advances in cancer treatment technology, Dr. Al Hammadi spoke about the development of the PET-CT Center for Diagnosis and Research, which she played a leading role in establishing. The center, which currently sees on average 50 patients per week, is the only one of its kind in Qatar and one of the most advanced in the GCC. “Having the center in Qatar means patients no longer need to travel overseas for this service,” she said.
The NCCCR has also recently opened a state-of-the-art technology facility called CyberKnife. This provides the world's only robotic radiosurgery technique designed to treat tumors non-invasively anywhere in the body.