Global Health Asia-Pacific Special Issue | Page 34


IHH Singapore ’ s one-stop radiation oncology centre for patients

DR IVAN THAM WENG KEONG Dr Ivan Tham Weng Keong is a Senior Consultant , Radiation Oncologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals . He has special interest in head and neck cancers , lung cancers and general radiation oncology .
DR LEE KIM SHANG Dr Lee Kim Shang is a Senior Consultant Radiation Oncologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospitals and a Visiting Consultant at the Singapore Gamma Knife Centre . Paediatric radiotherapy is one of the many areas he is specialised in .
A mainstay of cancer treatment , radiation therapy is the field of medicine involving the use of radiation beams like X-rays to hit and destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA and impairing cellular replication .
The sophisticated therapy requires both experienced doctors ( radiation oncologists ) and advanced equipment — such a comprehensive combination of staff and technology can only be found in the best centres in the world like IHH Singapore .
“ Radiation therapy is a complex treatment which involves a team of professionals including radiation oncologists , radiation therapists , physicists , along with nurses and allied health colleagues ,” said Dr Ivan Tham , a radiation oncologist at IHH Singapore , adding that radiation oncologists assess the patient and decide the best strategy while medical physicists design the radiation plan and radiation therapists ensure that the treatment is carried out accurately . Nurses support patients during the whole process .
Radiation therapy can be used against multiple types of cancer as a stand-alone treatment or in combination with other approaches like chemotherapy and surgery .
For example , radiotherapy can be the primary treatment for breast , gastrointestinal , liver , prostate , head and neck cancers , just to name a few .
The radiotherapy technology available at IHH Singapore makes it one of the most comprehensive facility globally where patients can receive the most advanced and effective radiation treatments in the field . Some of the cutting-edge machines at IHH Singapore include Radixact tomotherapy system , gammaknife system , TrueBeam STx system and VersaHD + ExacTrac Dynamic system . All advanced radiotherapy techniques are available for patients , such as Stereotactic ( Body ) Radiotherapy ( SRT / SBRT ), Radiosurgery ( SRS ), Tomotherapy , Volumetric modulated arc therapy / Intensity modulated radiotherapy ( VMAT / IMRT ), Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy ( 3D CRT ), Total Body Irridiation ( TBI ), Surface guided radiotherapy ( SGRT ), Image guided radiotherapy ( IGRT ), and Brachy therapy .
“ Radiation therapy plays an important role in the treatment of a variety of cancers . However , different patients have different requirements , depending on the cancer type and location of the tumour . Having a broad range of equipment allows us to tailor our radiation plans to the patient ’ s individual needs ,” he said .
Tomotherapy allows doctors to precisely pinpoint cancer cells according to the tumour size , shape , location , and type , whereas gamma knife is a computer-guided and incision-free radiosurgery that delivers highly focused radiation on tumours and lesions in the brain . IGRT applies medical imaging to accurately pinpoint the tumour ’ s location and assess its severity before providing optimised radiation on the affected area . SGRT utilises optical imaging involving
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