Treating Dr Loo's Liver Cancer with Brachytherapy
Dr. Loo Yie Jinn, a 61-year-old dentist from Sungai Petani in Malaysia, discusses discovering brachytherapy to treat his stage one pancreatic cancer. He describes how brachytherapy was used to successfully treat 15 tumors on the liver, which may be the most ever recorded.
The Diagnosis: Pancreatic Cancer that had spread to the Liver
This is the story of Dr. Loo Yie Jin, a true cancer survivor. Dr. Loo tells us about his fight against pancreatic cancer, which spread to the liver.
Dr. Loo Yie Jin was born in Sungai Petani, 61 years ago.
In 2022, he was diagnosed with stage one pancreatic cancer and faced a lengthy battle to overcome it. Like many cancer patients, he underwent surgery to remove the tumor. However, he suffered severe bleeding and required multiple blood transfusions. He was even admitted to the ICU four times during this trying period. Despite the hardships, he persevered and underwent chemotherapy, although subsequent PET scans suggested it may not have successfully eradicated the cancer.
His doctors then suggested Intensity-modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) for 28 days to help destroy any remaining cancer cells.
After three months of treatment, the following PET scan revealed that the pancreatic tumor had worsened - yet, an additional lesion had appeared in the right lobe of the liver.
He recalls being overwhelmed and hopeless by the news: "I was devastated that there was a new lesion in the liver."
His doctor explained that this lesion could not be removed surgically, so they discussed the potential of brachytherapy as a viable treatment option.
Liver Cancer Brachytherapy as a cancer treatment
Dr. Loo Yie Jin was unfamiliar with brachytherapy, and it was good to hear that an alternative treatment could be considered.
What is Brachytherapy?
Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy. It works by placing a radiation source directly in or next to the cancerous tumor inside the body. This allows the radiation to be precisely targeted to ensure the tumor receives the most effective dose to kill the cancer cells.
To treat liver cancer or cancer that has spread to the liver, intra-arterial brachytherapy is usually performed. A thin, flexible tube injects tiny beads that hold the radioactive substance into the main blood vessel that carries blood to the liver.
Loo Yie Jin had his first consultation for liver brachytherapy on 15 January 2020 and treatment of the lesion on the same day.
Afterward, he underwent six more brachytherapy sessions over nine months, treating fifteen lesions on his liver. This accomplishment earned him the distinction of having the greatest number of liver tumors ever treated with brachytherapy!
"I was told that I am the patient with the largest number of liver tumors treated with brachytherapy in the world."
Dr. Loo Yie Jin also received a combination of immunotherapy with his brachytherapy treatment.
What to expect with brachytherapy for liver tumor treatment
Dr. Loo Yie Jin shares that he was worried about brachytherapy, but his doctor calmed his fears, assuring him that everything would be alright.
He was sedated during the procedure, and a needle was inserted near his ribcage directly into his liver under CT scan guidance. After the brachytherapy treatment, the needle was immediately removed, and he was discharged home the next day.
There was minimal pain and a mild fever on the night of the procedure, which was treated with the prescribed medication. Besides this minimal side effect, he felt comfortable.
After completing all seven brachytherapy sessions, a PET scan revealed two new lesions in the area most recently treated with brachytherapy. The oncologist initially thought of an infection or a tumor.
Dr. Loo and his medical team persevered with another surgery, resulting in the best possible outcome: no active tumor cells were detected in the liver. He recalls: "I was amazed to know that there was no active tumor cell in my liver tissue."
How to Learn More About Brachytherapy?
At Elekta, we understand that it might be overwhelming for patients and family members to access comprehensive and clear information about their treatment options. We've created a brachytherapy resources website and a page dedicated to other patient stories.
A brighter future, cancer-free
Today, Dr. Loo Yie Jin is returning to his full-time private dentist practice in Sungai Petani. He feels active and normal like in the past.
A CT scan conducted in January 2022 revealed that he was disease-free in the liver and other regions, marking two years since his initial brachytherapy treatment.
Nearly three years after the first diagnosis of his pancreatic cancer, Dr. Loo Yie Jin is grateful that brachytherapy played an important role in curing his cancer. He says: "It has given me a second chance to live my life surrounded by my family, friends, and always my lovely patients."
As a cancer survivor, he highly encourages cancer patients with liver tumors to consult a radiation oncologist or brachytherapist to determine if brachytherapy is an appropriate treatment option.
"I hope all patients can benefit from the brachytherapy procedure."