Mr Hooman Soleymani Majd is a skilled specialist surgeon working in Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. He has years of experience treating advanced ovarian cancer and is part of a talented research group that pioneers new and better ways to treat ovarian cancer through ultra-radical surgery.
A typical day is…
Fairly busy and long… It starts with an early morning departmental meeting, where we go through the list of patients who are scheduled to have surgery in our department in the next few weeks. This is followed by a ward round, where I review the inpatients on the ward who have had surgery under our care. Then it’s time for our specialist gynaecology oncology clinic to start. Here we see many patients, many of whom have come from a long way away. There are patients who have been referred with a high suspicion of cancer and are required to be seen within two weeks and others who have been referred for treatment to us from other cancer units. Patients are seen with their family and in the presence of our cancer nurse specialists. Our clinic is then followed by our Multi-Disciplinary Team (a team of allied health professionals) meeting who come together to discuss all our patients and propose a plan of management for their cancer. Each case is discussed in detail and derives the full benefit of multi-professional opinion and expertise.
Please could you tell us about your research?
My current research focuses on ultra-radical surgery in ovarian cancer. It is clinical research, aimed at determining the efficacy, safety and outcomes associated with these surgical techniques. We also work hand in hand with the GO Target Research project led by Professor Ahmed Ahmed in Oxford, by providing surgical specimens for his team’s pioneering laboratory work on ovarian cancer.
Your most memorable work moment is…
Difficult to define, as each and every patient is memorable. Each patient affected by cancer has their own unique story. By caring for them during their diagnosis and management, I feel privileged to have contributed to their fight against cancer, by giving them hope at an otherwise very dark time in their lives.
The worst part of the job is…
When I have to give my patients the bad news that their cancer is not operable, is too advanced and does not meet the criteria for cytoreductive surgery. This is always very devastating for the patient and their family, but also for a healthcare provider and a surgeon. Breaking this particular type of bad news is always very difficult as I feel frustrated that I can’t help. Regardless of the number of times I have had to tell patients this, it does not seem to get any easier.
The best part of the job is…
When I can reassure patients and their family that everything has gone according to plan and we have succeeded in removing all the disease, which will give them the best prospect of a good outcome.
Why is it so important women have access to the best ovarian cancer surgery?
Because current evidence, supported by years of surgical experience, has shown that maximal cytoreductive effort should be our goal. No residual disease (when there’s no sign of disease) is the single independent factor that positively affects overall survival. In other words, if we want our patients to have the best chance of survival, we should do our best to remove all traces of disease by leaving no disease behind.
If you could change one thing to improve ovarian cancer survival rates in the UK what would it be?
Sadly, most ovarian cancer patients present with advanced disease when first diagnosed. If I could change one thing, it would be to have an effective tool to make an early diagnosis. Early diagnosis (through early detection) would truly help us to cure ovarian cancer when we treat it, and to give the women we see a better quality of life.