Image of the Brachytherapy team at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center

In 1978, Alam Nisar Syed, M.D., founded the American Brachytherapy Society (ABS), a nonprofit organization that provides insight and research into the use of brachytherapy in malignant and benign medical conditions. The organization consists of physicists, physicians and other health care providers interested in brachytherapy.

In June, Dr. Syed was recognized for his commitment to the organization and practice of brachytherapy when he received the Founder’s Award from his peers at the ABS World Congress of Brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy is Greek for short distance (brachy) and treatment (therapy). Sometimes called seed implantation, it is used for the treatment of different kinds of cancer. Radioactive “seeds” are carefully placed inside of the cancerous tissue and positioned to attack the cancer while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding tissues. Brachytherapy has now been used for more than a century.

Long Beach Medical Center performs more brachytherapy procedures, both inpatient and outpatient, than any other medical center in the United States, including some procedures rarely performed at other hospitals. Along with his colleagues at Long Beach Medical Center, Dr. Syed has developed several techniques of brachytherapy procedures that have become a standard of care and are now being used worldwide.

Dr. Syed has been with Long Beach Medical Center since 1984. He has been practicing brachytherapy for more than 30 years and is always looking for ways to improve the cancer treatment. He teaches his brachytherapy techniques to more than 50 physicians from around the world every year who travel to come learn his innovative techniques. When he is not in surgery, conducting research or teaching his mentees, he loves to travel and experience different cultures.

“It was an honor to be recognized by my peers from around the world for founding ABS,” says Alam Nisar M. Syed, M.D., medical director, radiation oncology and endocurietherapy, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute, Long Beach Medical Center. “I’m looking forward to developing more techniques for treatment and training future brachytherapy practitioners within this society.”

ABS has more than 1,600 members in all 50 states and 10 different countries. ABS holds annual conferences, as well as a world conference every four years with workshops, speakers and scientific exhibits.

Dr. Syed has served as Secretary, Program Chair, Lecturer and President of ABS. He is a board-certified cancer specialist in radiation oncology and is recognized as one of the international pioneers of modern brachytherapy. He also is the founding editor of the International Journal of Brachytherapy which has been an excellent resource for physicians and researchers for more than 20 years.

After receiving his medical doctorate in India, he completed his internship, surgical residency and served as a senior registrar in the United Kingdom, as well as in Edinburgh, Scotland. He then completed a surgical fellowship in Chicago, Illinois before moving to Washington, D.C. to train in radiation with Dr. Erlich Henschcke, an early pioneer in the field of brachytherapy.

Dr. Syed and his colleagues, Ajmel Puthawala, M.D., medical director, radiation oncology, MemorialCare Cancer Institute, Orange Coast Medical Center and A. Sharma PhD, director, medical physics, Long Beach Medical Center, have trained hundreds of radiation oncologists and surgeons from all over the world for more than 30 years. They also have conducted 22 annual workshops and symposia at Long Beach Medical Center and several international workshops and symposia in different countries.