5 November 2007

What can you say about a HOG? - The Ocker Doc

The sound from a motorcycle exhaust is not supposed to exceed 75 decibels. Well, strictly speaking, a Harley-Davidson is not a motorcycle, it’s a Harley-Davidson!

You will all be familiar with the machines – deep, loud bellow from a two wheeled projectile which looks to have a pot belly. To some it is the sound of heaven, to others it spells trouble. To our cancer patients from all over the island, it is the sound of the Lone Ranger. Hi Ho Silver! To the rescue!

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to meet with the local HOG (that’s Harley Owners Group) at the headquarters of the local Cancer Society where the members presented a cheque for more than $25,000 to the Cancer Society for purchase of software to assist the Department.

The software to be purchased is used for image fusion. In modern medicine, much of the information used is carried in the form of pictures. Different scans give different information. Until recently, the images were presented to doctors on paper or film. Taking the information from one scan to the other was inaccurate and awkward. Sometimes the films have different sizes, sometimes the orientation of the films is different, sometimes one scan shows the problem clearly but another shows nothing at all.

For a long time, doctors have wanted a way to put the images on top of each other, to change their sizes and orientation so that they match. In this way the information from all the available images can be combined.

The radiotherapy department likes CT scans because the CT data is used to predict the performance of radiation beams in the patient. Yet the MRI scan is much better for defining the extent of a brain or muscle tumour, or the position of a prostate containing cancer. “Fusing” the two images so that the MRI image accurately overlies the CT image means that the MRI data can be reliably transferred for more accurate planning. And better imaging means better definition of the area needing treatment. Better definition means more cancer and less normal tissue, leading to better cure and less side effects.

I would like to repay our HOGs with a promise from me and three requests to you.

I promise that we will put their donation to good use. And now my three requests. Firstly, if you see a HOG member (you’ll know them when you see them, they stand out!) say thanks. You have a 1 in 4 chance of benefiting from their generosity one day. Secondly, listen to that wonderful noise! Thirdly, look at that shine!

HOGs are fine by me.