February 2019 – A Winter Webinar

The festive period was a busy time for WMTS, but in between managing project deadlines and recovering from the over-indulgences of christmas and the new year, I did find some time to participate in the eCPD webinar ‘Understanding cancer for medical language professionals’ hosted by Jason Willis-Lee.

In a previous guise—before moving into translation—I spent a little over three years working as the Urology Multi Disciplinary Team (MDT) Coordinator for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT). It was an extremely challenging role and Jason’s webinar was the perfect opportunity to refresh my memory on some of the key terminology and themes associated with modern cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Due to vast scope of the subject matter, Jason decided to focus on two of the most common forms of cancer during his webinar. One—luckily for me—was prostate cancer; the other being breast cancer. After beginning with a quick refresher on the differences between mitosis and meiosis (which I had completely forgotten about), Jason ran through the range of diagnostic and treatment modalities associated with treating these cancer groups, and other more broadly.

While listening to Jason’s presentation, I couldn’t help but be transported back to working the Urology department all those years ago. On a daily basis I would track patients as they were referred in on the two week rule cancer pathway. I routinely escalated diagnostic test dates and results for TRUS (trans-rectal ultrasound) biopsies, CT and MRI scans so that they could be discussed at the weekly Urology MDT meeting which was attended by consultant urologists, oncologists, pathologists as well as the urology specialist nurse team.

As the Urology department at RLBUHT was—and still is—the central hub for urological cancer diagnosis and treatment across Merseyside and the Isle of Mann, I also had to coordinate the discussion of newly diagnosed patients across the entire region. In an era prior to the fast, simple and relatively secure digital transfer of data which we all today enjoy, the manual delivery of patient casenotes, histology slides and reports as well as vast numbers of CD-ROMs from Trusts far and wide—and not so far and wide—constantly presented challenges.

It was a time during which I also learned a lot. Coordinating the MDT meeting each week and having constant exposure to clinicians with many years of medical expertise, allowed me to quickly increase my knowledge about the different investigative pathways and even anticipate the treatment options that would be available to the patients discussed during the meeting.

On one rather memorable occasion, I was even invited to participate in the discussion about a patient’s diagnosis; in a strictly unofficial capacity you’ll understand. Whilst trying to diligently record the outcomes of the discussion, I was caught completely off guard by the pathologist who, having displayed a histology slide on the projector, said: “You have a go at this one, Will”, encouraging me to make a diagnosis of the cell dysplasia. Like a deer in the headlights I shifted my gaze towards the screen and after a few seconds—which, incidentally, felt like an eternity—I tentatively uttered under my breath: “Is it a seminoma?”. After receiving a confirmatory nod from the consultant, the meeting swiftly recommenced as I clambered to resume my frantic note taking.

Histology slide showing presence of seminoma.

Just as it was back then, personal development and exposure to those with expert-knowledge and experience is key to how WMTS conducts itself in the translation marketplace. I would thoroughly recommend this and other medical-related eCPD webinars to anyone with an interest in medical translation.

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Histology image courtesy of www.uaz.edu.mx 

Author: Will Maitland

German and French > English Freelance Translator

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