27 NOVEMBER 2015

Radical radiotherapy

Contributed by: Dr Edward Yang Tuck Loong

Is bloodless “surgery” possible? Parkway Cancer Centre invites doctors from around the region to join hands to battle cancer at their Continuing Medical Education seminar on Radiotherapy.

A two-day seminar in September saw Parkway Cancer Centre (PCC) hosting doctors from Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. The doctors were given a guided tour of three of PCC’s Radiation Oncology Centres and introduced to the new-and-improved technologies used in treating cancer.

The talks covered a range of topics from the introduction to high-tech radiotherapy, to stereotactic body radiation, radiosurgery, and image-guided radiotherapy.

Dr Lee Kuo Ann, Consultant for Radiation Oncology, and Dr Edward Yang Tuck Loong, Senior Consultant for Radiation Oncology, both addressed their medical counterparts during the two-day seminar. The doctors spoke about radiotherapy as primary treatment, as well as adjuvant therapy.

Dr Yang covered the basics of radiotherapy – how it works (in a nutshell: radiation enters the cancer cell and causes biochemical damage, therefore killing the cancer cell), how it is used (curative or palliative), and the advantages of modern radiotherapy.

Dr Yang also outlined the types of cancer and tumours best suited for radiotherapy. Malignant brain tumours, prostate cancers and lung cancers are among those successfully treated with radiotherapy. Radiotherapy is non-invasive and has lower risk of central nervous system damage.

But carelessly using radiotherapy can cause radiation necrosis and demyelination (a disease of the nervous system in which the sheath of the neurons is damaged, impairing the conduction of signals in the affected nerves).

Dr Lee Kuo Ann spoke about the type of technology used in oncology suites. Working in tandem with the developers of these technologies, Dr Lee explained how they upgraded their equipment to the state-of-the-art machines they use presently.

He went into deeper detail regarding the uses of the BrainLAB 6D Couch System, the TrueBeam Radiotherapy System and the Elekta BodyFIX vacuum cushion. These systems improve visualisation of the tumour, increase immobilisation of the patient (reduce respiratory movement) and allow for speedier delivery of treatment.

He also emphasised the importance of having a well-trained multi-disciplinary team - doctors, radiologists, therapists and nurses. Each must be an expert in his/her field so as to provide the best of care and a higher cure rate.

For example, the radiologist has to be very knowledgeable about the systems PCC uses or he or she could deliver the radiation to a healthy organ including the cancerous one. The doctor needs to be discerning about the dosage of radiation – too high a dose can cause severe side effects, and too low a dose might mean longer and less effective treatment sessions.

The other purpose of the seminar was to spark collaborative efforts with doctors from around the region.

Dr Manh Cuong Doan, a Radiation Consultant at Hanoi Oncology Hospital, said: “I found it very helpful as I learnt a lot more about radiotherapy. I also learnt how to organise a better team for radiation centre treatment.”

Another doctor, Dr Elia Aditya Bani, Radiation Oncologist at Ken Saras Hospital in Indonesia, praised PCC for the chance to network with experts of the radiation oncology field here in Singapore. He said: “It really opened my mind to the wonders of technology. I like how the PCC doctors keep up with technology in the medical field. They’re also very humble and willing to teach and answer our questions.”

Written By Charmaine Ng

POSTED IN Cancer Treatments
TAGS continuing medical education (CME), dr elia aditya bani, dr manh cuong doan, elekta, new ways to treat cancer, radiotherapy (radiation therapy), seminar & workshop, varian truebeam
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