PRHC Physician Profile

Dr. Jacob Hassan

Medical advances help urologist give patients better outcomes

By ELIZABETH BOWER-GORDON Although Dr. Jacob Hassan works primarily with people who have received the devastating diagnosis of cancer, he knows they are fortunate to be living in a time when surgery is less invasive, there?s less recovery time and fewer days are spent in hospital. As a urologist at the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), Hassan primarily treats those with cancer of the bladder, kidney and prostate. For kidney cancer, it used to be standard for doctors to make a large incision across a person?s torso and go through the ribs, sometimes removing a rib, to access the tumour. It was painful and often meant a week-long hospital stay afterward. But as technology advances, now the 36-year-old can make small ?keyhole? incisions to remove the kidney or the tumour, meaning less pain afterward and the patient can usually go home the next day. The PRHC?s reputation as an exceptional regional hospital, as well as its strong Foundation, which raises funds for new technology, were key reasons why Hassan chose to move his young family here in September. Hassan, his wife Ace and their twoyear-old daughter Dalia moved here from Oakville (they just welcomed their daughter Maya two months ago) and are enjoying living in a smaller community, with safe spaces to play, plenty of community events and less traffic. ?I grew up just outside Fredericton and it was very similar to Peterborough ? lots of water, big yards, very family oriented and clean air,? Hassan says. ?The only difference is that Fredericton was quite a distance to a bigger city whereas here, Toronto is only an hour and a half away.? Urologists diagnose and treat disease in the urogenital tract ? the kidneys, bladder, prostate, urethra, ureter and genitals. Hassan studied medicine at McGill University in Montreal, doing graduate research in urology, and went on to do a fellowship at the University of Toronto. He worked at Credit Valley Hospital in Mississauga before moving to Peterborough to live and work in a smaller more rural community. ?The time I spent in traffic, I would rather spend with my kids,? Hassan says. ?It makes a huge difference.? He is now one of four urologists at the PRHC who perform roughly 3,000 outpatient procedures every year on patients from a wide catchment area that includes Campbellford, Lindsay, Cobourg and Haliburton. Many who come to see him, often because there?s blood in their urine, are diagnosed with bladder cancer. This cancer is tough to deal with, he says, because it can be very aggressive and can re-occur frequently after treatment. ?It?s very important to have the diagnostic tools to catch it early because if you find it too late, it can metastasize quickly,? he says. Kidney cancer, meanwhile, is often diagnosed incidentally. He says people often have abdominal pain and a CT scan or ultrasound will show a mass on the kidney. The pain itself is often due to something else, such as constipation, but the patient is lucky that the mass was found so Hassan can treat it. He also adds that men in this generation are being more proactive about their health and seeking medical help. Men are less reluctant to talk about symptoms of testicular cancer such as an enlarged scrotum or a firm testicular lump. Men are also less hesitant to discuss their worsening urinary symptoms, which most of the time can readily be managed either through medications or minimally invasive endoscopic procedures. These procedures require no incision at all, with significantly less post-operative pain, recovery time and complications than open surgery. Importantly, many of the tools he uses at PRHC are state of the art. He says this is largely due to the PRHC Foundation and a generous community that donates money to purchase the latest technology, which helps doctors do their jobs better and also helps attract new specialists. The PRHC recently purchased a new portable C-Arm machine for the operating room, allowing the surgeon to operate independently of the radiologist, eliminating unnecessary steps and repeated anesthesia. Also, the hospital has new flexible cystoscopes and ureteroscopes that provide high-definition images to detect even the smallest lesions. ?They provide state-of-the-art visualization for accurate diagnoses and treatments,? Hassan says. Twenty years ago, he notes, some people who were elderly or very sick, simply weren?t fit to undergo life-saving procedures at all. Medical technology, which is always advancing, has changed that for the better by making treatment much less invasive. And 20 years from now, Hassan wonders what kind of technology will be used. Whatever its form, the technology will likely mean even less invasive procedures and shorter hospital stays; he also foresees more robust home-care programs. And he?s sure the PRHC will continue to be on the cutting edge. ?It?s one of the best-structured community hospitals around.? he says.





June 30, 2017.

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