Open Accessibility Menu

ARMC Brings San Bernardino County Population Greater Access to Advanced Surgical Procedures

ARMC Brings San Bernardino County Population Greater Access to Advanced Surgical Procedures

Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) is one of just two hospitals in San Bernardino County that makes minimally invasive cancer surgery available and accessible to its patient population.

Amir A. Rahnemai Azar, M.D., has been the head of the hepatopancreatobiliary and oncology surgery at ARMC’s Cancer Care Center for more than two years. He comes to ARMC with extensive experience in surgery. After earning his Doctor of Medicine degree in Iran, he completed his general surgery residency at New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx Hospital, his multi-organ transplant residency at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, and his complex surgical oncology fellowship at the University of Wisconsin Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to being board-certified in all three disciplines, he received advanced training in minimally invasive liver, pancreas, and gastrointestinal oncology surgery at the Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea.

“After all this training and experience, I always had a dream of giving back to the community,” stated Dr. Azar. “When I visited Arrowhead, I felt that our population in the Inland Empire is in urgent need of having an advanced cancer surgery program.”

This advanced cancer surgery program was spearheaded by Dr. Azar in collaboration with ARMC’s Hospital Director, William Gilbert, and the Department of Surgery Chairman, Dev GnanaDev, M.D. San Bernardino County is the nation’s largest county by area, and the team at ARMC found it vital to give its large, diverse patient population immediate access to the highest standard of cancer care and surgery, which includes the Whipple procedure.

Also referred to as pancreaticoduodenectomy, the Whipple procedure is an advanced surgery that targets the most complex area in the abdominal cavity and removes multiple organs that may be impacted by abdominal cancer—including the pancreas, duodenum, stomach, and lymph nodes in the area.

While patients with abdominal cancer have the option of chemotherapy, ischemic therapy, or radiation therapy, surgical resection such as the Whipple procedure is the only curative option. However, due to the surgery’s complexity, it is not offered in many major cancer surgery centers. The procedure requires multidisciplinary teams—that include oncology, gastroenterology service, and radiation oncology—to bring together highly specialized knowledge to prepare the patient for surgery and provide optimal outcomes. As a result, many patients struggle to find cancer surgery centers that can perform the surgery.

Dr. Azar and the other members of ARMC’s Cancer Care Center have a vital message for the members of their community. “We would really like to let our population know that if they have disease, if they have cancer in this area, it’s not the end,” said Dr. Azar. “There is a hope, and at Arrowhead, we are able to perform this surgery to the highest standard.”

Dr. Azar stated, “Here at Arrowhead, in view of our population, it is important in our efforts to resolve the disparity in care in such a diverse area.”

ARMC is committed to combating the financial barriers that can prevent patients from seeking treatment. ARMC accepts both Medicare and Medi-Cal coverage and has numerous financial assistance programs in place to help their patients receive the care they need.

Dr. Azar concludes, “The future belongs to minimally invasive surgery. And here at Arrowhead, we are on the front line of providing minimally invasive surgery for liver and pancreas cancers.”