UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

October 2014

More than 200 oncology doctors and nurses from Kazakhstan and the surrounding region gathered recently in Astana, Kazakhstan, to learn from experts in cancer care at the 2014 International Oncology Symposium, which featured many UPMC oncology leaders.

As part of a partnership to build a 21st century cancer hospital called the National Research Oncology Center (NROC) in Astana, Kazakhstan, UPMC cancer experts partnered with colleagues in Kazakhstan to hold The International Oncology Symposium from September 24 to 26. Participants included representatives of cancer centers from Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the U.S., as well as representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare of Kazakhstan, research associations and leading medical universities of Kazakhstan. Deputy Prime Minister Gulshara Abdykalikova, Nazarbayev University President Shigeo Katsu and representatives of the Ministry of Healthcare and Social Development of Kazakhstan delivered welcome addresses to event participants. The symposium was organized within the Nazarbayev University and UPMC Partnership, which is working to develop a cancer treatment program and hospital in Kazakhstan by the end of 2016.

A day of plenary lectures focused on critical topics like “Cancer Care: A Global Vision,” “Current Oncology Practice in Kazakhstan,” and “Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Cancer Care.” Half-day minisymposia used a case-based approach to discuss modern diagnostic and treatment approaches to common cancers like lung, breast, colorectal and cervical cancer. Two special sessions designed for nurses led by Sandy Rader, UPMC's chief nursing officer and vice president of patient care services, and Sharon Hanchett, clinical director of oncology services, were held at the National Republican Research Center of Emergency Medicine Hospital, affording the opportunity for members of the UPMC team to be reunited with their Kazakh counterparts who had visited Pittsburgh for intensive training earlier in the year. Simultaneous translation made it possible for the entire symposium to be accessible to speakers of Kazakh, Russian and English.

This important international symposium would not have been possible without the efforts of Loretta Hanwell, vice president, UPMC Global Care and International Cancer Center Development; Charles Bogosta, president, UPMC International and Commercial Services and President, UPMC CancerCenter; and Ken Alibek, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as chairman of the board, National Medical Holding. All in attendance were grateful for the opportunity to play a small role in the quest to improve the quality of care for the nearly 35,000 individuals who are diagnosed with cancer in Kazakhstan each year.