A Grande Prairie man says he will be forever grateful to those involved in a new, early-stage stomach and intestinal cancer treatment. Chris Partington was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2018 and underwent the new, minimally invasive method of treatment in Edmonton, which he says brought on faster recovery and few to no side effects.
Partington argues if not for the brilliance of Gastroenterologist Dr. Clarence Wong, he would have been facing a life very different from that he was used to. He explains the original procedure he was facing would have seen a removal of a part of his stomach, as well as from his esophagus.
“That would entail removing the whole stomach, because you no longer have that valve at the bottom of your esophagus to your stomach, so they would just connect the esophagus to the small intestine.”
Partington says that procedure would have restricted him to a half cup-or-so sized meals or less for the rest of his life.
That’s when he was told about Dr. Wong and the Endoscopic Submucosal Dissection (ESD), a process that sees the patient sedated before the gastroenterologist passes an endoscope through the mouth to the GI tract where the tumour is located. The entire tumour is then removed in one complete piece with some surrounding tissue using special instruments inserted through an endoscope.
Partington says he knew he was a part of something special when the operating theatre was at full capacity.
“Because it was a new procedure and no one had seen it very much, when I went into the operating room… there were so many people in there they couldn’t wheel me in on the cart,” he laughs.
“I had to get off the cart I was on and walk to the operating table, and they said they normally don’t do that, but there was equipment and so many people in the room they couldn’t wheel me in there and transfer me over.”
Partington was one of only 15 patients to receive the procedure in the province in 2018. According to Alberta Health Services, all 15 were discharged home within 24 hours of surgery and none required hospital readmission.