This year OPSA recruited a UK faculty to travel to Pakistan to teach breast surgical skills. Penny McManus, Consultant Breast Surgeon in Hull, was joined by Richard Sutton from Bath, Brendan Smith from Reading and Steven Thrush from Worcester. All are Consultant Oncoplastic breast surgeons and experienced teachers and trainers, having organised and taught on the oncoplastic breast surgical skills courses at the Royal College of Surgeons for several years.

The team flew to Lahore on Friday 12th October, where they met with Professor Arif Khawaja, who had organized the activities for the week. They attended a breast cancer symposium in the Services Institute of Medical Sciences in Lahore, presenting lectures on breast cancer diagnosis and management, and briefly appearing in the evening news bulleting on local TV! The symposium was also addressed by local specialists, including Professor Khawaja, Dr Hamda Khawaja and Dr Rufina Soomro,  who presented their own experiences of the disease and its incidence and presentation in Pakistan. 

On the following day the team presented at a further symposium in The Benazir Bhutto Hospital, Rawalpindi Medical University and joined in a breast cancer awareness march around the hospital grounds. On the Saturday evening the team visited some of Islamabad’s famous landmarks, including the Pakistan monument and the Faisal mosque, an amazing sight at sunset. The next day they were taken to the old Hill fort of Murree in the foothills of the Himalayas.


On 15th and 16th October, the team were hosted by Professor Naeem Zia and the Islamabad chapter of the College of Surgeons and Physicians of Pakistan at the Benazir Bhutto hospital for the first Association of Breast Surgeons Level 1 Breast Surgery Skills Course. The course was a mixture of lectures, question and answer sessions and live operating. The first day focused on benign breast disease and saw the faculty operating on cases of multiple fibroadenoma, giant phyllodes tumour, gynaecomastia and nipple discharge. The second day concentrated on breast cancer, and the team performed a mastectomy and a case of breast conserving surgery, both with axillary dissection.


The course was attended by 65 delegates, with both consultants and trainees. It seemed to be a great success., running relatively smoothly despite the technological challenges of combining live theatre links and presentations.  There was excellent audience participation throughout and the faculty were impressed by the level of interest shown and the standard of the questions asked. The faculty had the opportunity of seeing and treating patients with pathology much more extreme and advanced than usually seen in the UK, and the discussions with delegates gave us a real insight into the difficulties encountered in managing breast disease in Pakistan.

Prof Naeem Zia and his team with the faculty

Prof Naeem Zia and his team with the faculty

After a final visit to the Old City in Lahore the faculty retuned to the UK. Overall the visit was felt to have been very successful, interesting and enjoyable and all the faculty hope to return next year to deliver the course again.

Wearing traditional dress in Lahore!

Wearing traditional dress in Lahore!

Michael Wilkinson