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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Prof studies cervical cancer

Roughly 500,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year worldwide. China accounts for about a fifth of those cases. One UA professor is at the forefront of a group of international physicians working to promote preventative screening and early detection of gynecological cancers for Chinese women.

Dr. Kenneth Hatch, a professor in the UA College of Medicine’s Obstetrics and Gynecology department and the division director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, began his career in obstetrics in 1971, after being drafted into military service. After serving his time at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Hatch said he knew that gynecological cancer surgery was his calling, and he began work in rural African-American communities in Alabama. During his time there, Hatch promoted screening and early detection, two practices which would become a mission statement for his work. By the time he left in 1990 for the UA, the number of local cancer cases had decreased from 1,000 to 300.

At the UA, Hatch continued to rise as an expert in gynecologic surgery, and he and his colleagues became the first surgeons in the United States to operate on a patient with gynecologic cancer using laparoscopic surgery in 1991.

Hatch began his annual travels to China in 2005 with former UA faculty member Changping Zou, setting into motion what would become the hallmark of his journeys to China: teaching laparoscopic surgical techniques by performing and overseeing surgeries as well as lecturing. Hatch hopes to see his training program “disseminate skills quicker in China.”

Hatch hasn’t only been involved in revolutionizing medical education in China — he is also a publishing pioneer.

The publication of his book, “Hatch’s Innovations in Gynecological Laparoscopic Surgery,” was the first of its kind in China.

Hatch designed his book to include pictures with text in English and Chinese side-by-side to promote English literacy among Chinese physicians. With more and more Chinese physicians learning English, Hatch’s personal interactions with and lectures for these doctors have become more effective and efficient. Higher Education Press now uses Hatch’s image and text format as its standard for designing medical education textbooks. Hatch’s book has also been converted to e-book format.

“China controls the press,” Hatch said. “All medical school books in China are published by Higher Education Press and the circulation of educational materials regarding cancer is restricted to professionals only.”

Hatch teaches physicians minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery procedures during his trips to China and when Chinese doctors visit the UA. He also uploads videos of such surgeries online or burns them to DVDs.

“They really like that part of it,” he said.

The challenges faced by the United States as far as surgery goes have been essentially elimiated, but China needs 20 more years to reach the same point, Hatch said.

A lack of funding by the government forces Chinese hospitals to find the money to pay for their own surgical instruments, so Hatch collects cutting-edge surgical equipment in the United States, then brings the instruments to China. While laparoscopic robotic surgery machines are common in the United States, China has only three. Laparoscopic robotic surgery machines increase a physician’s accuracy and precision and reduce hospital stays to as little as one day.

But according to Hatch, early detection and prevention play the biggest role in reducing the number of cervical cancer cases.

“The only things that can make an impact are screening programs and HPV vaccination.”

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