First Nuclear Medicine facility in Zululand

Nuclear Medicine is completely transforming the field of medicine. It allows for new advanced therapies that give new hope for patients – and it is available right on our doorsteps in Richards Bay.

The Nuclear Medicine Centre at Richards Bay Medical Institute is one of only a handful of independent nuclear medicine facilities in South Africa.

It is headed by the highly esteemed Dr Masha Maharaj, whose expertise in the field has earned her international recognition.

Nuclear medicine is a medical specialty that is used to diagnose and treat diseases in a safe and painless way. Nuclear medicine procedures often identify abnormalities very early in the progression of a disease – long before some medical problems are detected with other diagnostic tests.

This early detection allows a disease to be treated sooner in its course when a more successful prognosis may be possible. Nuclear medicine is an essential tool in investigating and staging cancer, infection and other diseases.

The investigation prompts clinical guidance in management and treatment options. This impact on patient care and outcome has completely transformed medicine with new hope with advanced cancer therapies, Theranostics.

Since opening the first dedicated Nuclear Medicine Centre in 2014 in KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Maharaj and her specialised team have initiated the first advanced targeted therapies in KZN for neuroendocrine cancers: dotatate-targeting treatment (2015) and prostate cancers: PSMA-targeting treatment (2016).

These specific targeting therapies allow treatment of receptor-specific cancer cells which have failed chemotherapy, radiation or hormonal therapy.

Radiographer Trisha Govender and Dr Masha Maharaj analysing a patient’s results

Compared to chemotherapy and radiation therapy, the specific targeting treatment has less harm and toxicity to normal tissue cells and is able to directly target every cancer cell in every location.

Dr Maharaj

Dr Maharaj did her MBBCh through Wits University, in Johannesburg. She specialised at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town where she obtained qualifications through the College of Nuclear Physicians of SA (FCNP), thereafter obtaining her Masters in nuclear medicine (MMED) through Stellenbosch University.

In May 2015, Dr Maharaj participated in the First World Theranostics Academy (WTA), held in Innsbruck, Austria.

She obtained diplomas in small business management and bookkeeping whilst studying her MBBCh Degree in 1998 and 1999, respectively.

Dr Maharaj is an active member of the South African Oncology Consortium (SAOC). She consults regularly on the peer review panel for the consortium.

She is published in several international journals and contributed her work in a chapter in a cancer textbook. She has presented her work internationally. Her interests are oncology and Infection imaging, as well as Theranostics.

The Nuclear Medicine Centre offers imaging, early detection and monitoring of diseases, intra-operative surgical guidance and advanced therapies in Thyroid (benign and malignant), Neuroendocrine tumours, prostate cancers, bone metastases and radiosynovectomy (in arthritis).

Nuclear medicine procedures are fully reimbursed by most medical aids.

Previously patients would have to travel over 150km to utilise this essential specialised medical service.

Most patients are unable to afford travelling and may be limited in their disease state and thus did not have access to this essential diagnostic and therapeutic service. This resulted in patients with a protracted (unnecessary prolonged) course in their disease.

There have been strides in medicine in the progress of
treatment and imaging of diseases and we, at Richards
Bay Imaging and Therapy Nuclear Medicine Institute, are
excited to be part of this journey in Zululand, both for the
patient and their family.

For more information, visit the Nuclear Medicine Centre at Richards Bay Medical Institute, call them at 035 780 0240 (Ext 155) or email [email protected].

 

  AUTHOR
Mari Scott

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