Orthopaedic Oncology at the New Frontier

Ipoh Echo speaks to Dr Nawaz Hussain Mohamed Amir, the Resident Orthopedic Surgeon from KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital to learn about Orthopaedic Oncology.

In the field of Orthopaedic Oncology, orthopaedic surgeons deal with  tumours of the upper and lower limbs including the spine, focusing on both bone and soft tissue tumours. These are very complex diseases but yet still manageable and often are curable.

Patients should consult with an oncologist when they have any swelling, prolonged pain and unexplainable deformity. However, what if the swelling can’t be seen and yet we still feel the pain? Take bone cancer for example which is said to be one of the hardest to detect.

“Bone and soft tissue cancers are relatively rare in comparison to solid organ tumours such as Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer, Thyroid Cancer and Colorectal Cancer. Bone Cancers arise from either the marrow of the bone, cortical part of the bone or the outer layer of the bone-periosteum. Soft tissue cancers are tumours arising from all the other tissues such as fat tissues, muscles, nerves and blood vessels,” said Dr Nawaz.

However, due to population increase and life expectancy is becoming longer, Dr Nawaz finds more and more cases being reported and patients are undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy due to bone cancers.

When asked about how much the field of orthopaedics has changed over the years, he remembered the days where doctors had to depend mostly on full history of the patients’ conditions, background and conduct full examinations. Thanks to recent technologies, patients are now put through a few investigations including blood analysis, Plain X-Ray, CT Thorax, MRI of the affected site and finally a tissue biopsy is needed to determine the type of  tumour, resulting in more accurate diagnoses.

Most bone cancer patients are older children and young adults, raising the question of whether  babies and toddlers faced any orthopaedic problems. According to Dr. Nawaz, they are rarely affected but there are reported cases, “Haemangiomas (tumours of the blood vessels, Infantile fibrosarcoma, etc) are usually the type of tumours often related to young patients, not bone cancers. Most common age for bone tumours are from 11 to 25 and soft tissues cancers afflict those above 40,” added Dr. Nawaz.

Despite the challenges he faces in this field, Dr. Nawaz encourages the young generations to consider joining the world of Orthopaedic Oncology.

“Aside from  passion, you have to ask yourself if you are ready to go through a very long process of training which may take 4 to 5 years more than the normal specialist training,” said Dr. Nawaz.

Currently the KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital department of Orthopaedic Oncology has the complete team which comprises of the surgeon, oncologist, radiologist (interventional Radiologist), pathologist as well as supporting services such as Physiotherapist and laboratory to help patients.

Readers who are keen to know more about Orthopaedic Oncology and other related issues, can book appointments with Dr. Nawaz at 05-2408777 Ext. 8316 or visit KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital at 26, Jalan Raja Dihilir, 30350 Ipoh, Perak.


Ili Aqilah

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