Meet BHB’s New Oncologist: Dr Sein Aung

January 6, 2015

Dr Sein Aung - Nov 5 2014 001Oncologist Dr Sein Aung joined the staff of Bermuda Hospitals Board [BHB] in September soon after the department had moved services to the new Acute Care Wing.

He resigned his positions as Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Centre and Director of Hematology and Oncology Education at Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, to assume the post as the Director of Oncology at BHB.

He said he was attracted to the post after meeting former BHB consultant oncologist Dr Tutu Aung.

“I met her at a medical conference in April and mentioned to her about my plan to visit Bermuda” he said. She invited me to give the lecture on newer anticoagulant medications in Bermuda and suggested I consider working on the Island as a fulltime oncologist was needed.”

Dr Aung said when he came to Bermuda, Chief of Pathology Dr Clyde Wilson and Consultant Radiologist Dr. Stephen Witchell gave him a tour of the entire hospital.

“I have 15 years of oncology experience and was impressed with what I saw of the unit here. Touring the facility I was confident that we could give patients standard chemotherapy that meets international standards,” Dr Aung added.

While there are some special services that are not provided at KEMH like interventional pulmonology [where local radiation therapy can be delivered directly to tumors in the lungs via a scope and placing the stent to open up the airway] or interventional gastroenterology [where endoscopic ultrasound guides biopsy of the pancreas, nearby lymph nodes and wall of stomach can be taken via a scope], Dr Aung said accurate diagnoses and administering up-to-date and the most advanced chemotherapy drugs can be done in our unit.

“The field of oncology has become highly specialised and one of the difficulties BHB has had in attracting physicians has been our requirement for a general oncologist,” BHB said. “That we do not have radiation treatment facilities has compounded the challenge of attracting qualified physicians.”

Dr Sein Aung - Nov 5 2014 005

But Dr Aung said he was comfortable leaving a state-of-the-art facility in Baltimore to practice here. “When I saw what can be done here – that we are using modern equipment, I was confident that my competency would not be compromised,” he said.

“The Franklin Square Cancer Center where he worked in Baltimore was purpose built in 2004 and features services that many of the area cancer centers there do not have. We had referrals from other cancer centers because our equipment and services were state-of-the-art,” he said.

Working in the ACW for three months, Dr Aung said the facility is excellent. “If is definitely comparable with big cancer treatment centers in the US and is better than many of them,” he said.

And he said he’s been surprised at the variety of cancer types he’s seen here, saying: “In my first month I was surprised to see quite a number of rare cancers – desmoids tumors, sarcomatoid carcinoma of the lung and colloid carcinoma of the breast. These are tumors I have seen before but maybe one every three to four years.”

Seeing about 200 patients each month that he’s been here, Dr Aung said his patient load is very similar to what he had in Baltimore. “But I’ve noticed that the patients here seem more resilient. They are able to tolerate the side effects of the chemotherapy treatment much better than most patients I had in the US. It’s not that the Bermudians do not have side effects it’s that have an overall positive attitude which helps and is important in treating them,” he added.

Dr Aung said this determination seems to be a feature of Bermudians. “I was impressed with everyone’s ability to bounce back after the recent storms. People here just work together and get things that need to be done, done. They also listen. When they were told not to venture out during the hurricane, they stayed in. This has not been my experience elsewhere.”

Originally from Myanmar [previously called Burma] Dr Aung and his wife [a gerontologist] have medical degrees from both Myanmar and the UK and have worked in these countries as well as the US.

Dr Aung said he believes his strengths lie in his knowledge, experience, patience and ability to explain things very simply. “I take time to really explain things to people until they understand,” he said. In fact he has won awards three times for his expertise in this area.

“Medical residents said I was so good at this that I should be put in charge of education,” he said. “I am diligent with keeping abreast of developments in my field and ensure that I stay current.”

Dr Aung added, “I like to work as team and we are doing that in the unit here at BHB. The nurses here are not only knowledgeable but also compassionate providing excellent care for our patients. I’m very happy with the staff. Our pharmacist is thorough, double checking everything which minimizes errors. I’m very, very happy here.”

Dr Sein Aung has been married to Dr Htay Myint for 18 years. They have both moved to Bermuda.

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Comments (2)

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  1. Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

    Welcome to Bermuda Dr Aung!

  2. sage says:

    Would you recommend cannabis for chemos’ side effects, or it’s ability to trigger apoptosis in cancerous cells?