ASCO – Helping Improve Cancer Care in Developing Countries

Dr. Peter Brett joined the Commonwealth Health Care Corp on the island of Saipan, in 2019. His presence has significantly improved the delivery of cancer care services in the Northern Mariana Islands. Dr. Peter Brett maintains membership with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

The American Society of Clinical Oncology is the premier global organization for physicians and health care professionals attending to patients with cancer. Through its foundation, ASCO assists developing countries to improve the skills of their oncologist with initiatives such as the Long-term International Fellowship (LIFe). The fellowship offers upcoming oncologists in low-to middle-income countries the means to further their training by enhancing their association with a mentor in Canada, the European Union, or the United States.

Recipients gain significant experience and training through the course of the one-year fellowship, which they can leverage to enhance cancer care in their country. The grant amounts to $115,000, which covers research, personnel expenses, and travel. This includes travel to participate in the Conquer Cancer Grants and Awards Ceremony during the ASCO Annual Meeting.

The Leading-Edge Stanford School of Medicine

Saipan Residents Now Have Better Access to Oncological Care

In 2019, the island of Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands welcomed CHCC, an oncology service provider with cutting edge treatment options. The CHCC’s new center counts among its staff Dr. Peter Brett, an American oncologist with decades of experience in the field. Until recently, Dr. Peter Brett was the director of medical oncology at the Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa, California.

The center will provide life-saving treatments to the island’s residents who previously had to go off-island for critical cancer treatments. In addition to acute treatment, the new center will provide follow-ups and continued care for patients who may develop comorbidities and other side-effects from the treatments.

Some specialty forms of care, such as radiation therapy and major surgical procedures, will still be unavailable to residents. However, a significant amount of patients will be receiving their care locally which is expected to reduce the impact of cancer on the island.

Saipan Residents No Longer Have to Leave Island for Basic Oncology

  Building upon a career in oncology that includes eight years as a medical oncologist and oncology director at Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods in Santa Rosa, California, Dr. Peter Brett recently accepted a position with the Commonwealth Health Care Corp (CHCC) in the American commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. With Dr. Peter Brett’s arrival, CHCC has greatly expanded its oncology services.

The largest island in the Northern Mariana chain, Saipan also supports the most full-time residents. However, CHCC (the biggest healthcare organization on Saipan) had long lacked comprehensive cancer diagnosis and treatment services. In the summer of 2019, the organization spearheaded staff and operational growth to introduce a range of new oncological testing and treatment modalities.

CHCC is expanding with CAT-scans and other diagnostic/monitoring technology as well as treatment methods that include chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted molecular therapy. Working with patients over time, it can assess tumor evolution and address any side effects of treatment.

Some Facts about CT Scans

  Dr. Peter Brett is an accomplished oncologist working at the Commonwealth Health Center in Saipan. In his practice, Dr. Peter Brett diagnoses and treats various cancers with the help of imaging tools such as computerized topography (CT) scans.

To perform CT scans, doctors employ a computerized, tunnel-like machine fitted with a sliding table that goes through a rotating x-ray device to make cross-sectional images of a person’s body. A patient lies face up on the table and, as it slides into the tunnel, the rotating x-ray device takes cross-sectional pictures of his or her body from multiple angles. The images captured are then transmitted to a computer which creates a series of images. Essentially, the machine, enables doctors to look at specific sections individually. Sometimes, patients are administered a special dye called a contrast material to help doctors see internal structures more clearly.

CT scans are often used in oncology, as they help doctors pinpoint the location of a tumor during diagnosis and to evaluate the efficacy of treatments. CT scans can also be used to diagnose infections and bone fractures, study internal body structures such as blood vessels and soft tissues, and guide medical procedures like biopsies.

CHCC Calls for Measles Vaccination

  The former director of medical oncology at Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, Dr. Peter Brett has spent over 25 years specializing in internal medicine and oncology. In June 2019, Dr. Peter Brett moved to Saipan to serve as an oncologist with Commonwealth Health Care Corporation (CHCC).

On October 28, 2019, CHCC issued a press release noting the re-emergence of a measles outbreak in the Pacific as well as mainland US. The statement also noted that a measles outbreak has been ongoing in Samoa, Tonga, Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia. CHCC called on the residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI) to take precautionary measures by being vaccinated.

A highly infectious disease, measles is characterized by rashes all over the body, which appear within a few days after the occurrence of initial fever. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that about 90 percent of unvaccinated people who have been exposed to the measles virus will get infected. However, receiving the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine can prevent the occurrence of measles.

CHCC wants CNMI residents to act immediately while the probability of a measles outbreak remains low. The MMR vaccine is available at the CHCC main campus, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Preventing Falls among Seniors Receiving Cancer Treatment

Dr. Peter Brett pic
Dr. Peter Brett

Dr. Peter Brett is an oncologist working with the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. in Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands. Committed to professionalism and continuous development, Dr. Peter Brett is a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

ASCO is focused on improving treatment outcomes for patients diagnosed with cancer. It runs cancer.net, a platform that gives patients and their families expert advice and resources to help them make informed health care decisions.

In August 2019, cancer.net published an article identifying ways seniors diagnosed with cancer can stay safe during treatment. According to ASCO, the first step is to avoid falls. All seniors are more prone to falls. Their likelihood of falling increases significantly when they are receiving cancer treatment because both the disease and its treatment can affect patients with fatigue, dizziness, and muscle weakness.

To avoid falls, seniors’ family members should clear all clutter and obstructions from pathways at home, install lighting in dark living spaces, install grab bars and rails to make homes safer and easier to navigate, and install a shower chair. They can also purchase new footwear for the senior patients, specifically, shoes which fit well, are low-heeled, and have aggressive anti-slip soles. These should be worn at home as well as outside. Patients with cancer who are undergoing treatment should not wear high-heeled shoes or walk around the house just wearing socks, as both these things increase the likelihood of falls.

Lastly, families of seniors undergoing cancer treatment should hire caregivers to help the seniors perform everyday tasks that present a challenge for them. Hiring caregivers will also improve adherence to treatment plans and checkup attendance.

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