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As a board-certified radiation oncologist, Weisi Yan, M.D., Ph.D., works in a decidedly scientific field. However, he sees a strong connection between his work and art.
“Think of a doctor contouring cancer and critical organs on a computer screen as a painter using a mouse as his brush,” said Yan, who joined MCI as head of the CyberKnife program in Radiation Oncology. “There are a lot of connections between science and art. There’s an art to how you design radiation treatment.”
Yan says he also finds radiation oncology to be a “technically and intellectually challenging” field because of its combination of anatomy, physics and other sciences.
Yan comes to MCI from New York, where he held faculty appointments at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and New York Hospital Queens. He also served as an assistant professor of clinical radiology at the Weill Cornell Medical College of Cornell University.
His specialties are head and neck cancers, lung cancer, lymphoma and GI cancers. In addition, Yan has extensive training in Stereotactic Radiation Therapy, in which high-dose radiotherapy beams are aimed at a tumor from many different directions with a high level of precision. At MCI, this therapy is delivered by the CyberKnife Robotic Radiotherapy System. “CyberKnife delivers high-dose radiation in a sharp and precise manner,” Yan said.
Yan says there is a strong demand for CyberKnife treatment in south Alabama, Mississippi and the Florida panhandle. “We are in a unique situation here,” he said. Along the whole Gulf Coast, there is no other CyberKnife closer than hours away.
Yan earned a bachelor of medicine from China Medical University and a Ph.D. from Cornell, where he trained in pharmacology. He completed his residence at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine and NYP/Cornell Medical Center, where he served as chief resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology. Yan also rotated at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center during his residency training.
When treating patients, Yan says, he employs another type of art – music. “I play music to patients when they’re undergoing radiation treatment,” he said. “The patients usually have a preference, though I prefer classical.”
The ancient Chinese symbol for medicine is similar to the symbol for music, he said. “Music carries messages. All of these messages have individualized effects that can be soothing and calming.”
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