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ESSO Training Fellowships: Broaden Your Horizons 28/08/2017

Every year ESSO offers fellowships to young trainees in surgical oncology, in order to help them to learn new techniques and expand their practical knowledge of the field.

Dr. Jacopo Desiderio (IT) from Saint Mary's Hospital of Terni, University of Perugia (Italy), as a former awardee of the exclusive fellowship, visited the Department of Gastrointestinal Minimally Invasive Therapies at the City of Hope National Medical Center Duarte (CA, USA) for the period of May to November 2016; “[I realised] If I was really interested in surgical oncology, I needed to improve my knowledge by having new experiences” says Desiderio. Having chosen to receive a high-level training in an external specialist centre, he was eager to make the most of this experience, and opted to take part in all educational conferences and lectures organised for the fellows in training, which encompassed various aspects of surgical strategies and practice.

Participating in liver resection procedures and robotics training were golden opportunities for Desiderio, whose wish was to focus on gastric cancer surgery and liver surgery as well as to attend some complex surgical procedures. “During my clinical training, I learned how to perform a comprehensive evaluation of the oncological patient, critical review of images, and most importantly, preoperative counselling on how to discuss expectations, pain management, nutrition, and follow-up with the patient and their family” continued Desiderio, who also managed to improve his practical knowledge of robotic surgery by using a skills simulator and a dual console.

The period spent abroad also afforded the opportunity to meet and profitably exchange views with international experts. Thanks to his mentor, Dr. Woo, Desiderio was involved in the clinical research setting, gaining experience on how to carry out a scientific project from hypothesis to full development (e.g. a meta-analysis to systematically evaluate the role of hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy in gastric cancer), how to prepare video presentations, and how to establish a high-quality gastric cancer database for City of Hope.

The ESSO fellowship programme is also intended to foster relationships among different healthcare institutions, Desiderio's experience resulted in the joint organisation of an ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) Congress in Italy at the end of his fellowship, where both Prof. Woo and himself had the opportunity to report on the experience and discuss future projects and studies.

“I found wonderful people and an extraordinary surgical group at City of Hope” concluded Desiderio, whose unique and fulfilling experience has inspired host candidates to the open call for fellowship applications 2017-2018.

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