“Despite considerable advances in cancer care, a cancer diagnosis can be an overwhelming experience causing considerable anxiety for patients and their loved ones. Cancer care centres that offer a comprehensive range of advanced therapies combined with holistic person centred care can, however, provide much needed support and peace of mind during this difficult time,” says Marilyn Lameyer, regional radiation therapy manager for Netcare Western Cape.
Speaking ahead of World Cancer Day, Lameyer commented on the growing incidence of cancer and the technology available to fight different types of cancer while noting that Netcare N1 City Hospital’s dedicated cancer care centre has been providing a wide range of treatments for all types of cancer for many years.
“During the years that we have been operational we have stayed abreast of the latest advances in technology, with a multi-disciplinary team of healthcare practitioners considering the best cancer treatment options for each patient based on their specific cancer, personal circumstances and needs. At the same time a range of support services, including a patient navigation service, is offered to each patient to support and guide them during their treatment journey.
“A comprehensive range of cancer treatments are offered at the hospital, all under one roof at the dedicated cancer care centre. The well-established radiation therapy unit is equipped with a state-of-the-art linear accelerator which provides eight different types of highly specialised radiotherapy. Other treatments include nuclear medicine – an area of specialisation in radiology used to assist with the diagnosis and treatment of certain types of cancer, as well as chemotherapy and cancer surgery. Cancer surgery of the brain is done in the hospital’s world class interventional theatre incorporating MRI and CT technology and a new, highly specialised microscope,” she adds.
CT and MRI diagnostic technology in theatre a first in the Western Cape
Dr Sachin Naidoo, a neurosurgeon who practises at Netcare N1 City Hospital, explains that the state-of-the-art interventional theatre is one of only two in South Africa with intra-operative access to both an MRI and CT scanner, the other being at Netcare Milpark Hospital in Johannesburg.
“This equipment is most often used in cranial related cases involving the surgical removal of tumours but can be used for other types of cranial cases too,” explains Dr Naidoo. “The benefit of having this equipment available for use in the theatre is that it makes it considerably easier to assess the potential outcome of an operation before it is even complete, as the patient can be scanned then and there while still intubated. This assists in identifying whether there is still any part of the tumour or possibly other tumours remaining, which can then be removed in that same operation.
“This is a much more efficient process and can ensure far better outcomes for a patient, who would otherwise have to have a follow-up scan post-operatively. If there is still any tumour detected at that stage the patient may well have to undergo another procedure.”
Dr Naidoo notes that the interventional theatre was built specifically for the purpose of improved tumour removal, but that it has the added benefit of enabling the surgical team to perform an awake craniotomy, if needed. “An awake craniotomy involves giving the patient a general anaesthetic before the operation and then bringing the patient back to consciousness during the operation. Naturally, the anaesthetist applies local pain blocks to ensure that the patient experiences no pain whatsoever.
“During this process, we work alongside a physiotherapist or an occupational therapist – depending on the area of the brain being operated on – to identify any possible red flags, such as weakness on the one side of the face or body, or for example a speech deficit, amongst other potential issues.
If the therapist observes any concerning developments we will stop operating immediately and physiologically map that part of the brain, making use of the theatre’s scanning functionality if needs be. This provides us with immediate, invaluable feedback and if required we can stop working in that area of the brain, rather than waiting until after the surgery to see if brain function has been impacted. This ensures dramatically improved outcomes for patients,” he says.
Improved patient outcomes through advanced neurosurgical visualisation during surgery
A new neurosurgical visualisation microscope – the Zeiss Kinevo 900 – has recently been added to the equipment available in the interventional theatre at Netcare N1 City Hospital. According to Dr Naidoo, this microscope is the most advanced on the international market, enabling far greater accuracy in identifying the exact location of tumours.
Dr Naidoo explains how the microscope works. “We inject a type of dye, like that used by ophthalmologists, via an intravenous drip as the patient is being anaesthetised. Once we have accessed the brain, we can observe the dye lighting up under the microscope, which when used with a blue lens will show the dye up as bright yellow. This helps to clearly distinguish the borders of the tumour, which in turn enables greater accuracy in tumour removal.
“The microscope is accompanied by a highly specialist camera, the QEVO, which can be used in conjunction with the microscope to look around corners where we cannot see, taking the visual capabilities of the equipment even further. Every case is different and requires an individualised approach, and this range of equipment we have at our disposal means we can tailor the intervention to a patient’s exact needs,” says Dr Naidoo.
Placing each person at the centre of care
Lameyer adds that while advances in cancer treatment continue in leaps and bounds, the rate of positive cancer diagnoses also continues to increase and there is considerable, growing need for holistic, person centred care for each person on a cancer journey.
“Each individual patient who comes through the doors of our centre is an individual, and every case is different. Our patient navigators are highly trained nursing specialists who help to ensure that the transitions from one phase of treatment to the next are as smooth as possible for each patient.”
“By offering holistic cancer care complemented by cutting edge technology, such as at Netcare N1 City Hospital and the other dedicated cancer centres at Netcare hospitals in the Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, we provide the medical and emotional support needed by many individuals fighting cancer. It is our privilege to continue making a difference in the lives of the people who seek medical care from us, now and well into the future,” she concludes.
Netcare publicly reports survey results from patients with cancer about their quality of life and experience of the Netcare people caring for them. These measures and results can be viewed using this link https://bit.ly/3rnZy2w
Sidebar: More about the radiotherapy available at Netcare N1 City Hospital
- External beam radiation therapy
Radiotherapy entails the treatment of lesions with ionising radiation. In the case of external beam radiotherapy, high energy x-rays or electrons are generated outside the body, usually by a linear accelerator machine, and these high energy beams are targeted at the tumour site where they deposit their energy within the body to destroy cancer or abnormal cells.
- Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
IMRT is an advanced treatment delivering a high dose of radiation with high accuracy to a tumour. Multiple beams are shaped to conform the lesion’s outline. Each beam has several sub-beams or segments, and the intensity of each segment varies. In effect, IMRT allows control over both the shape of the radiation field as well as the dose that gets delivered to each ‘sub-area’ of the field. This results in the delivery of the prescribed dose to an irregular tumour, at the same time sparing the normal structures and tissue around the tumour.
- Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT)
IGRT enables the creation of a three-dimensional image of the actual patient and the position of the lesion with each individual treatment. This increases the accuracy of the treatment set-up and delivery. IGRT can also be used to adapt and modify the treatment plan to allow for anatomical changes during radiotherapy. The increased precision in adapting to anatomical changes improves tumour control and reduces side effects of treatment.
- Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT)
VMAT is a radiation therapy technique that delivers the radiation dose continuously as the treatment equipment rotates. This technique accurately shapes the radiation dose to the tumour while minimising the dose to the organs surrounding the tumour.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumours of the brain. It can deliver precisely targeted radiation in fewer (up to four) high dose treatments than traditional radiotherapy, which can help preserve healthy tissue.
- Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT)
Stereotactic radiotherapy is SRS delivered over more treatment sessions, up to 28.
This is a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. It involves placing many radioactive seeds within the prostate to treat the cancer. The placement of the seeds is permanent, but the radioactivity in the seeds declines over time.
Radioisotope therapy is a procedure in which a liquid form of radiation is administered internally through infusion, injection or in a capsule.
Notes to editor
Looking for a medical appointment? Netcare appointmed™ will make appointments for YOU with specialists practising at Netcare hospitals, GPs and dentists at Medicross medical and dental centres, and specialists at Akeso mental health facilities. Simply request an appointment online at www.netcare.co.za/Request-a-medical-appointment or phone Netcare appointmed™ on 0860 555 565, Mondays to Fridays between 08:00 and 17:00.
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For more information on this media release, contact MNA at the contact details listed below.
Issued by: MNA on behalf of Netcare N1 City Hospital
Contact: Martina Nicholson, Meggan Saville, Estene Lotriet-Vorster or Clemmy Forsthofer
Telephone: (011) 469 3016
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org