Education & events / 23 Mar 2016

Achieving Better Outcomes with Expertise And Technology

Featuring Dr Chin Chong Min Urologist @ Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital, the pursuit of good health is something that most people would go to great lengths for, and that is something that was clear fo Mr Terrence Patrick Swift. The American citizen travelled from Beijing, where he based, to Singapore in search of the best treatment for his kidney cancer.


Mr Swift’s   journey began in Bangkok Thailand, where he was holidaying November   2015. The 54-year-old, who lectures at a university in Beijing, went through a health screening at a Bangkok hospital – showed a 5 cm mass on his kidney. Upon his return to China, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan confirmed it to be cancerous. The only good news was that the cancer was still at stage 1, which meant that he could still be cured through surgery.

Keyhole surgery, also known as minimally invasive surgery, was Mr Swift’s preferred type of treatment. He had heard that it was safer, with less blood loss and risk complications compared to open surgery. less painful and gave faster recovery. His initial choice was to undergo treatment Beijing but the hospital there had limited experience, having only started their robotic surgery programme a year ago.


While looking for other options, his surgeon friend suggested that Mr Swift try Singapore for its reputation as a premium healthcare hub. Mr Swift undertook some research and found Dr Chin Chong Min, urology   surgeon   with   22   years   of experience   who is   based   at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital which has the da Vinci robot. Dr Chin is renowned for his surgical expertise in treating urinary and kidney cancers using robotic surgery, having trained in the technique since 2005. This inspired confidence in Mr Swift, who took the first step to contact Dr. Chin.

“When I first reached out to Dr Chin, it was through email. I sent him copies of all my scans and medical reports. What first struck me was how communicative and patient Dr Chin was. He explained my condition and all the treatment options available, as well as all the possible consequences. In fact, he even went the extra mile to communicate with my surgeon friend to explain all the medical terminology relevant to robotic kidney surgery so that my friend could help explain the situation to me,”Mr Swift said.

Scheduling an operation took some time, as Mr Swift’s medical insurance coverage needed to be arranged and the cost estimate approved. Eventually, Mr Swift arrived in Singapore in January 2016, and had the operation the next day.


Some doctors that Mr Swift spoke to recommended removing the whole kidney as his kidney cancer was more that 4cm in size but Dr Chin was confident that he could do the a partial nephrectomy using the da Vinci robot so that most of kidney is spared. “It would not be possible to do partial nephrectomy for a tumour this size using standard laparoscopy because of the inherent limitations of the rigid instruments. Also, the kidney can only tolerate 30 mins of   blood supply intteruption and time is of essence in this surgery. So the usual options will either be open surgery with an incision at least 20cm long given his large frame, or laparoscopic total nephrectomy if the robot was not available,”said Dr Chin.

“There were some challenges in the operation due to Mr Swift’s body size, tumour size and its unusual location in his kidney,”Dr Chin explained. “It took 3 hours and 45 minutes, but thanks to the robotic technology, the cancer could be excised with clear margins and blood loss of less than 300 ml with no blood transfusion needed.”

The surgery was successful, and the pathology report confirmed that the cancer was removed completely with adequate clear margin. “The whole process, including recovery, was smoother than I expected,”Mr. Swift said. “I was able to stand on the second day and walk around by the fourth day. The hospital is also very impressive, the rooms resemble hotel rooms, and the nurses here have taken very good care of me.”

“I am very happy that I was able to cure Mr Swift’s cancer completely,”Dr Chin said.

“I still keep in touch with him to track his progress, and he recovered so fast that he was able to get back to the gym the following week to lose 3 kg he had gained from the binge eating as a result of depression from knowing he had cancer.”

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Published on 23 Mar 2016

Source: Parkway Corporate Communications

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