Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New cancer treatment

27-year-od Dewi Hermawati is a survivor of a rare type of cancer where the patient suffered from inflammation of the brain. Doctors used an unconventional approach in the management of an inflammation of the brain associated with ovarian tumours. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

DOCTORS in Singapore have come up with a treatment approach for a rare condition associated with ovarian tumour.

They have written a journal article recommending this method as a standard to treat similiar conditions worldwide.

Known as paraneoplastic encephalitis, which is an acute inflammation of the brain, it occurs when there is cancer in the body causing an extremely active immune system to mistakenly attack the brain.

As a result, patients can suffer from neurological complications like fits, confusion or memory problems. If left untreated, this could eventually lead to permanent and severe brain damage or even death.

It is not known how common this condition is as there is no international data. But based on estimates, less than one percent of patients with cancers will have such a condition, said Dr Tan Min-Han, associate consultant at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCSS)'s department of medical oncology.

The fact that such a condition even exists only came to light in 2007 when a US doctor saw 12 patients who had cancers and were subsequently found to have inflammation of the brain.

Since then, about five patients in Singapore have been diagnosed with the problem.

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