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Development in radiotherapy for cancer treatment

The Star, Saturday 4 February 2023


CANCER is a major disease that continues to plague many people to this day, yet despite the presence of awareness campaigns, people are still left blindsided when they are diagnosed.

A long-held stigma

A large portion of the Malaysian population, primarily in rural areas, still does not fully understand what cancer is and its symptoms. Many patients often perceive cancer as a death sentence and this causes them to become desperate for help, which includes seeking unproven treatments.

Medical director and consultant clinical oncologist at Beacon Hospital Datuk Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Datuk Hj. Abdul Wahid urges patients to seek professional help to find out more about the medical treatments available and the possible effects of these treatments on the body.

“For this reason, it is important for the public to be aware of recent developments in radiation therapy”, he stresses.

A new form of cancer treatment

Initially used in the treatment of brain tumours, stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) has since been adapted to treat other forms of cancer. This non-invasive procedure makes use of highly precise radiation beams and real-time imaging to provide a safe and effective treatment.

A big contributor to SBRT’s viability as an alternative treatment is the rapid evolution of medical technology to enable oncologists to deliver radiation beams on a concentrated area.

Dr Ibrahim highlights, “Due to its precision, stereotactic radiosurgery technology allows us to target the tumour of interest while avoiding collateral damage to surrounding tissues.”

Dr Ibrahim says that with new technology such as TrueBeam 2.7 Radiotherapy, patients can be confident during treatment as there are surface tracking and automated safety features that will shut down radiation beams upon sensing movement.

Benefitting cancer patients

According to Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy versus surgery [non-small-cell lung cancer]: an analysis of two randomised trials published in Lancet Oncology, SBRT is shown to have significant survival rates for early-stage lung cancer. The local failure rate of SBRT in the prostate, liver and spinal cancer are also notably lower compared to the conventional.

In addition to the high degree of accuracy of SBRT technology, enabling quick yet concentrated doses of radiation that eliminate more cancer cells per session. As a result, the overall treatment time for cancer is reduced significantly.

A common concern of radiotherapy is the debilitating side effects such as chronic fatigue, skin issues and hair loss. However, the highly precise beams reduce radiation spillage to surrounding tissues and reduce toxicity.

Article Source: THE STAR, STAR Special 2023.02.04

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Dato’ Dr Mohamed Ibrahim

Consultant Clinical Oncologist

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