Alexis Acuña
Director General
Cancun Oncology Center
View from the Top

Bringing Oncology Expertise to Cancun

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 11:49

Q: Why did the company decide to establish its operations in Cancun and what were the market conditions that led to its establishment?
A: Cancun Oncology Center began operations in 2013. It is part of the MRC International Oncology Center Group comprised of US, Mexican and European investors whose approach was to target emerging economies with insufficient oncological units. The group has invested in Cancun and Queretaro in Mexico, as well as in the Dominican Republic. MRC International recognized that Mexico and specifically Cancun had a shortage of oncological services. In the past, regional patients had to travel to Yucatan, Campeche, Monterrey, or Mexico City to receive some types of treatment.

High-quality care units with international certifications, like Hospital Galenia, also opened their doors making for potential partners in the local market. Large volumes of foreign patients coming to the city added to the attractiveness of Cancun. Even though the oncology field is not a focal point in medical tourism, we still attract demand.

Q: How is Cancun Oncology Center divided and what services can it offer?
A: Cancun Oncology Center’s business and medical attention model, as well as its infrastructure, is focused on an interdisciplinary approach that includes radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgical treatments, the three general ways to treat cancer. We have two internal oncologists who focus on radio and chemotherapy, coupled with an affiliate group of oncologists with different specializations.

We have built a one-stop shop clinical model for oncology patients, following the operational plan of US and European cancer care units. All of our patients, regardless of their initial diagnosis, receive the attention of at least three of our specialized oncologists.

Q: How is Cancun Oncology Center helping marginalized communities receive cancer treatments?
A: Cancun has grown exponentially over the last 10 years, attracting wealthier communities as time passes. The city has an average population of 1 million inhabitants. However, the project originated from a wider angle, trying to service all socioeconomic spheres. The company offers discounts to those in need by conducting socioeconomic studies, coupled with free treatments for children through partner foundations. One of our main purposes is to service all of our patients equally, regardless of status or financial capabilities. For example, we are equipped with the best linear accelerator (LINAC) in Mexico’s southeast region, providing both radiotherapy and radiosurgery services depending on what our patients need.

Q: What sets Cancun Oncology Center apart?

A: As I previously mentioned, our integral solutions set us apart from our competitors. In the past, excellent oncology practitioners could be found in Cancun but there was no cohesion in their services. After diagnosis, patients were normally referred to other states, which left a lot of unexploited opportunities in the market and a deficiency in the quality of medical attention. In addition, marginalized communities could rarely make the trip and receive treatment.

Like fingerprints, each cancer case is unique. As such, patients need multiple specialists to define the best approach and type of treatment. Besides the support of Mexican oncologists, Cancun Oncology Center has also created alliances with highly renowned US-based physicians. These physicians are leading experts in the oncology field, all of which have developed new technology and cancer treatments.

We understand that we can achieve more positive outcomes through cooperation. Therefore, we open our doors to independent oncological practitioners that want to use and support their work through our infrastructure.

We treat our patients with affection, personalized care and the latest scientific advancements. Similarly, we expect all our doctors and affiliates to follow suit. Their credentials alone are not enough. For us to retain their services, we must make sure they believe in our philosophy and respond accordingly.

Q: How is cancer evolving and how has it affected the number of patients you see come through your doors? A: Breast and cervical cancer are affecting female populations all over the world, not only in Quintana Roo. Male patients, on the other hand, are affected by lung, prostate and gastric cancer the most. When comparing these numbers to the US and the rest of the country, similar results will follow. Unfortunately, the state government is still in the process of creating indicators that will allow us to better understand the situation in Quintana Roo. On a positive note, the state’s public healthcare system is systemically improving its quality, especially in oncology.

Q: How is the state government helping Cancun Oncology Center achieve its social purpose?
A: We keep open communication channels with the government at all times. Some of our physicians work in the public sector as well, serving as the government’s on-the- field analysts, helping it understand what is happening in the market. Cancun Oncology Center has monthly lectures on prevention and public institution agents are always invited. Cancun Oncology Center also works with private charity institutions. In both instances, they help us spread the information. Finally, we are undergoing negotiations with the state government as to subcontract some of our services to it.

Q: How much of your business is from medical tourism and foreign patients?
A: On average, 20 percent of our patients come from abroad. Numbers fluctuate depending on the month, but that is average. Most of these patients come from Canada and the US. But Hospital Galenia is referring some of its Belizean patients, as they created a link-up program with private national institutions. We also have seen patients from Germany, Italy, Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean.