Cancer surgery accreditation comes to city

Jack Ratcliffe credits the surgeons at the University of Alberta hospital with saving his life after they discovered a cancerous tumour had wrapped around his sinuses.


“When they actually told me after the surgery what they did to me, I said, ‘You did what?’ I couldn’t believe it,” the 57-year-old said, explaining that they took a bone from his leg to make a new jaw for him.


“I’m so lucky, to think it’s been over a year since then and you don’t have to go south or east or someplace else to have this procedure. It’s amazing.”


Ratcliffe isn’t alone in his praise because one of the hospital’s surgical programs has now been accredited by a prestigious American medical society.

Doctors at the University of Alberta hospital can now be fully trained in surgeries involving cancer of the head and neck — complicated procedures requiring some of the world’s best surgeons.

Dr. Jeffrey Harris, chief of head and neck cancer surgery at the hospital, said training doctors in these procedures is incredibly complicated, with some surgeries taking over 15 hours.

The accreditation will attract surgeons that want to be trained in detailed reconstruction techniques and world-class research in surgical methods, he said.

“It also recognizes that we have a very good, certainly world-class, team that works in Edmonton to treat patients,” he told Metro yesterday.

“I think there’s a certain reassurance for patients, that they can walk in and they’re comfortable knowing that they’re getting as good of care here as they could anywhere else in the world.”

Only 18 centres across North America offer the same teaching accreditation in neck and head cancers.

Second in country

  • The designation makes the city the second centre in Canada — next to Toronto — to offer the detailed surgery fellowship.