Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Docs Step-in and Spare Veteran Unnecessary, Grueling Medical Treatment

April 7, 2010

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When Army Veteran Michael Flynn visited the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center, he had already endured an extensive evaluation at a non-VA medical institute in the United States. “Because I’m a Veteran, I had an alternative [for a second opinion] most people don’t — the VA Medical Center in Houston,” said Flynn (left) with Avo Artinyan, M.D., Operative Care Line staff surgeon. PHOTO: Bobbi Gruner, Public Affairs Officer

 

HOUSTON - Health care providers from the Oncology, Surgical, and Anesthesiology departments at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC) used a multidisciplinary approach to successfully treat a 62-year-old Army Veteran from Fulshear, Tx. suffering from colorectal cancer.

Cancer of the colon or rectum is also called colorectal cancer. In the United States, it is the third most common cancer in men and women. “Peanuts” creator Charles Schulz, movie star Audrey Hepburn, film critic Joel Siegel, and music soul legend Teddy Pendergrass all died of colorectal cancer. 

When Veteran Michael Flynn visited the MEDVAMC, he had already endured an extensive evaluation at a non-VA medical institute in the United States. The doctors there recommended a month and a half of pre-operative combination of chemo and radiation therapies, followed by possible surgical resection.

“That sounded like a tough road to go down so my family and I wanted a second opinion,” said Flynn. “Because I’m a Veteran, I had an alternative most people don’t -- the VA Medical Center in Houston.” 

“Mr. Flynn was referred to me for a second opinion early this year,” said Avo Artinyan, M.D., Operative Care Line staff surgeon. “I reviewed the results from the other medical facility and recommended laparoscopic surgery and possible post-operative therapy, if necessary. I believed this course of action might spare him unnecessary treatment.”

Weighing his options, Flynn decided to have his medical treatment at the MEDVAMC. He underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove the cancerous section of his bowel. Being a minimally invasive procedure with faster recovery period and less risk of infection, he left the hospital after only a few days. Today, post-operative tests confirm he is cancer-free.

“By closely looking at his staging studies and the existing evidence for rectal cancer, we made an individualized treatment plan for Mr. Flynn that spared him a lot of grief,” said Daniel Albo, M.D., Ph.D., Operating Room Affairs associate care line executive and Colorectal Cancer Center director.

“I am glad I chose the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. I trusted my doctors and nurses; it made the decision to go ahead with the operation easier,” said Flynn. “I’m doing great.”

In February 2010, the MEDVAMC was again recognized for demonstrating consistently low observed-to-expected mortality rates in general surgery, all surgery, and all non-cardiac surgery. It is the only VA to have a statistically low mortality for the past nine years.

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