In 2012, Serges Bériault’s life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in the bile duct of his liver. With an almost zero percent chance of survival, his only treatment option was an experimental clinical research project that was developed by the renowned Mayo Clinic in the United States.
Not wanting to leave his wife and two children during this difficult diagnosis, Mr. Bériault was referred to Dr. George Zogopoulos, an MUHC specialist in hepato-pancreato-biliary and transplant surgery and a researcher in the Cancer Program of the Research Institute of the MUHC (RI-MUHC). Already having a research interest in the Mayo Clinic’s experimental treatment plan, Dr. Zogopoulos knew the MUHC and the RI-MUHC had the expertise to take on Serges’ case – and he did just that.
Despite the fact that it had never been attempted in Quebec, Dr. Zogopoulos put together an interdisciplinary team of more than 20 people including nurses, transplant surgeons, oncologist and radiologists who worked day and night to keep Serges alive. His treatment plan, which combined radiation therapy along with chemotherapy and a liver transplant, required constant monitoring as well as consultations with research experts abroad.
After successfully completing radiation and chemotherapy treatments, doctors had to make sure Mr. Bériault’s cancer had not spread. Once confirmed, he finally received his liver transplant. After undergoing one more surgery because of a severe post-operative infection, Mr. Bériault was released from hospital after seven months. He now has a perfectly functional liver and sees Dr. Zogopoulos regularly to make sure there is no recurrence of cancer.
Only two centres in Canada offer this type of experimental treatment and the MUHC is one of them. Mr. Bériault’s case is a perfect example of the kind of individualized and highly-specialized care that is provided at the MUHC each and every day. Thanks to this clinical innovation, the MUHC and RI-MUHC teams of specialists have improved the treatment procedure given to Mr. Bériault’s and since then, another patient who was diagnosed with the same type of cancer has started it.