Gladys Ganief, 68, of Heathfield, received the treatment. supplied image
Gladys Ganief, 68, of Heathfield, received the treatment. supplied image

Groote Schuur hospital’s first microwave-like treatment for tumours

By Genevieve Serra Time of article published Oct 26, 2021

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Cape Town - A 68-year-old woman is the first to receive Microwave Ablation treatment, a first of its kind at State hospital, Groote Schuur, which kills tumour cells.

Gladys Ganief, 68, of Heathfield, had a previous history of lung resection and renal cancer and was not a candidate for surgery as a follow-up session with surgeons showcased that her tumour was getting bigger.

A biopsy revealed that there was a new lung cancer which had spread from the renal cancer.

This made her a suitable candidate.

Dr Qonita Said-Hartley, the Consultant Radiologist at the hospital, explained that an applicator attached to a microwave-like machine was inserted into the tumour.

Alaric Jacobs, spokesperson for the hospital, detailed that the machine was one of the first for Groote Schuur.

“Groote Schuur Hospital is taking the lead, again by being the first state hospital in the Western Cape to perform the Microwave Ablation (MWA) on patients.

“This is a technique which can be used to kill tumour cells, and in this case, heat energy in the form of microwaves via a special microwave machine and an applicator which is positioned in the tumour. Microwave Ablation can also be used in lung cancer cases on primary and secondary tumours of a certain size where patients are not able to undergo surgery.”

The doctor added the frequency of the machine was used.

“The procedure is performed under Computed Tomography guidance using a special Microwave Ablation machine,” said Doctor Said-Hartley.

“The patient is put to sleep using general anaesthesia. The lung cancer is located using Computed Tomography scanning, and then a special applicator attached to the microwave machine is inserted into the tumour. The microwaves are emitted via the machine into the tumour for a few minutes, depending on the size of the tumour and the frequency of the microwaves used.”

Jacobs added Ganief was their first candidate.

“The first patient treated using this technique was a 68-year-old who was referred with a history of previous lung resection for lung cancer as well as a history of previous renal cancer. The small right lung nodule on her follow-up Computed Tomography scan was getting bigger and was then biopsied, confirming a new lung cancer rather than spread from renal cancer.

“Unfortunately, the patient was not a surgical candidate because of reduced lung volume and function. which made for a good candidate for Microwave ablation and the fact the cancer was in the early stage.”

Ganief said she was pleased with the results.

“I feel very well, and I am just a bit out of breath when I walk and talk,” she said.

“This procedure I would do any day. Everything went so much quicker, and there were no chest drains and Intensive Care stay.”

Hartley said the procedure saw that patients could be discharged the day after the treatment and that they were strategic with their selection.

“Patient selection is very important in this process, and the entire multi-disciplinary team is involved in the decision-making process once patients are referred. Patients are admitted to the thoracic surgical ward, either on the day or a day before the procedure, and when done, the patient can be discharged the following day if no complication occurs.

“It is a privilege to have been able to perform this first of its kind procedure because it allows for a relatively non-invasive form of treatment for patients who would not be able to tolerate surgery in the State sector.

“This is considered a first-world treatment and provides patients with a good quality of life and improved survival.”

Two weeks ago, the hospital showcased the robotic-assisted surgery machine called the da Vinci Xi system, which was a first at a State hospital.

Weekend Argus

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