Honour for Malaysian doctor with pioneering cheaper, laser surgery for cancer

PETALING JAYA, 21 Oct 2021:

A Malaysian doctor has become the first in Southeast Asia to be honoured by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) for pioneering cheaper laser surgery for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Associate professor Dr Yeong Chai Hong, of the School of Medicine at Taylor’s University, was recently awarded the IUPAP Young Scientist Award in Medical Physics 2021.

This expert in nuclear medicine and interventional radiology, along with her research team, developed an award-winning laser-driven hot needle system for a safer and cost-effective percutaneous tissue biopsy procedure – which improved safety and minimises bleeding complications.

“The team is currently working on upgrading the prototype so that it can be simultaneously used for tissue ablation – a minimally invasive cancer treatment,” said Dr Yeong.

She explained that for certain tumours or when patients are not fit for surgery, minimally invasive therapies such as hyperthermia therapy are recommended.

Current hyperthermia therapy uses either radiofrequency, microwave, laser or extreme cold (cryoablation) energy to induce cells death at the targeted tissues, while minimising damage to the surrounding healthy tissues.

“Today, patients do not require open surgery with this innovative development and the success rate is promising. The development was created to make cancer treatment more affordable, less invasive and safer, hence improving the overall cancer survival rate and quality-of-life of cancer patients in Malaysia.”

Another significant research by Dr Yeong was the development of a cost-effective and low radiation oral formulation for a whole gastrointestinal tract transit study.

Clinical studies are carried out on adults and children as research has shown that the radiation dose is about 100 times lower than computed tomography (CT scan).

In 2012, her project won the Certificate of Merit awarded by the European Society of Radiology, the second largest radiology society in the world. To date, Dr Yeong is the first and the only Malaysian who has received this prestigious award.