Muscat – Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Care and Research Center (SQCCCRC) has pioneered a breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men and accounts for about 5% of new cancer cases in Oman.
With this breakthrough treatment, Oman has become the first country in the Middle East to offer LDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer treatment.
Spearheaded by Dr Nadeem Pervez, Senior Consultant – Radiation Oncology, and his team at SQCCCRC, this innovative treatment has been successfully administered to ten patients since its initiation in November 2022.
“LDR brachytherapy offers multiple advantages over traditional methods,” said Dr Pervez. “It’s a same-day procedure that is highly cost-effective, time-efficient and has a favourable side-effect profile, particularly concerning sexual dysfunction.”
In contrast to conventional treatments, which may require up to 39 sessions of external beam radiation, LDR brachytherapy is a minor surgical procedure that takes less than two hours and allows the patient to be discharged on the same day.
To elucidate the process, Dr Pervez explained, “An ultrasound measures the prostate gland for treatment planning. Once planned, we place an order for the necessary radioactive iodine-125 seeds and needles with a supplier abroad. When the shipment arrives, the procedure is performed under general or spinal anaesthesia, and the patient can go home the same day.”
The brachytherapy procedure involves insertion of needles containing radioactive seeds smaller than grains of rice. These seeds release radiation locally over a period of time, destroying the cancer cells and stopping these from dividing and growing.
Given that prostate cancer accounts for about 5% of new cancer cases in Oman, this innovation is critical. “This is a silent disease often diagnosed late. Early detection significantly improves outcome,” Dr Pervez stressed. “Our patients no longer have to travel abroad for specialised operations. In fact, we are now attracting patients from neighbouring countries.”
Setting up the new treatment posed challenges initially, especially given the use of radioactive material. “However, SQCCCRC’s multidisciplinary team successfully navigated regulatory requirements and procured necessary equipment.”
As vice-chair of the Middle East Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (MESTRO), Dr Pervez emphasised the organisation’s role in implementing international standards and facilitating educational and research advancements in the region. “MESTRO serves to elevate the quality of radiation oncology treatments and comprehensive care for cancer patients in the Middle East,” he said.
With such pioneering efforts, Oman has not only advanced its cancer treatment options but also positioned itself as a regional leader in healthcare management.