The Oncology Center of King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam is a core competency center at the hospital, that was established in 2006.
It started offering chemotherapy services in June 2007, and since then, it has been providing advanced comprehensive care to patients with complex oncological conditions, as a renowned referral cancer center. It continues to be the only provider for radiation treatment at the Eastern Region, even developing intra-operative radiation therapy, and the only Ministry-of-Health center performing stem cell transplantation, recording 181 transplants between 2010 and 2015.
The oncology center consists of 5 clinical departments: adult medical oncology, adult hematology-oncology and stem cell transplant, radiation oncology, pediatric hematology/oncology and stem cell transplant, Palliative medicine, and also a cancer registry department, with a total of 32 consultant physicians, and 40 of specialist physicians, fellows, and residents.
In addition, specialized nursing services, psychology, social work, spiritual counseling, nutrition, and physical therapy, are set in place to support the oncology team, and facilitate the implementation of comprehensive care plans.
The oncology center is a referral center that provides advanced comprehensive treatments for complicated solid tumor and hematological malignancies affecting patients of all ages, and it offers bone marrow and stem cell therapy for both blood and solid malignancies as well as for bone marrow failures and complicated congenital anemia.
Referrals are also made for complex pain and symptom management in cancer.
Palliative and supportive care
The department of Palliative medicine was established in early 2007. With a small team consisting of a consultant with special interest in palliative care and three residents, it started providing consultation services, giving recommendations regarding symptom management for oncology patients. The benefit of having this additional layer of support was soon realized, and because more focused care was needed for the imminently dying, 10 beds scattered at the oncology center were designated as Palliative care beds for hospice patients requiring inpatient care. A separate unit was then set up, growing to a 15-bed capacity now, with trained palliative care nurses, clinical nurse coordinators, psychologist, social worker, and also, a spiritual advisor. This idea of spirituality in medical care was novel to the hospital and it added a new dimension to the service provided. Also, a home hospice service was established to expand care to reach patients at homes.
Policies and clinical guidelines were put together to support the Palliative care practice. Moreover, focus on education has been an ongoing departmental goal.
With three fellowship-trained and board-certified palliative medicine consultants, 5 experienced assistant physicians, and experienced professionals from supporting disciplines, the palliative care program at the Oncology Center of King Fahad Specialist Hospital in Dammam has grown to become a center of excellence in providing state-of-the-science palliative care for patients in need at all stages of their disease.