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Toronto hospital live tweets surgery to raise awareness about cancer

“The goal of this live tweet event is to educate the public on prevention and screening while giving a firsthand view of surgical treatment,” Sunnybrook said. John Lehman / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – In an attempt to raise awareness about cancer prevention and treatment, a brave patient, an oncologist and his Canadian team allowed their Toronto hospital to live-tweet a colon cancer surgery Wednesday.

“Every week, roughly 423 Canadians hear the words ‘You have colorectal cancer.’ For these patients, and their friends and families, the diagnosis is just the start. There’s the treatment and recovery and just getting up to speed on what’s ahead,” Sunnybrook Hospital wrote on its website explaining why it decided to live-tweet the surgery.

“The goal of this live tweet event is to educate the public on prevention and screening while giving a firsthand view of surgical treatment,” it said.

READ MORE: How Canadian doctors are using an incisionless surgery to remove tumours

The real-life story that unfolded Wednesday included Panagiota, the 70-year-old patient, who was diagnosed with colon cancer. She lost her husband and father to the disease (she asked for only her first name to be used).

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Her surgery was led by Dr. Shady Ashamalla, a surgical oncologist at Sunnybrook, who specializes in minimally invasive surgery.

The procedure at hand was a laparoscopic right hemicolectomy – it sounds like a mouthful, but it’s a minimally invasive surgery in which the right side of the colon is removed completely using only tiny incisions.

It’s a relatively new approach: the diseased segment of the colon is removed via a small horizontal incision below the belly, kind of like a C-section.

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Here are some of the highlights from the surgery:

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READ MORE: Toronto hospital live tweets cardiac bypass

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of death for Canadian women and men, but it’s also a highly treatable cancer if detected early, the hospital says. It isn’t the first time Sunnybrook has live-tweeted a surgery – earlier this year, it tweeted a heart bypass surgery.

READ MORE: It’s a boy! Texas hospital delivers Twitter’s first live C-section birth

Around the world, doctors are now using social media to showcase feats of medicine – delivering a baby, for example, has even been live-tweeted.

carmen.chai@globalnews.ca

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