Spotlight on a Specialist – Dr Richard Shaffer

Q1. How long have you been practicing for? 

I qualified as a doctor 24 years ago and have worked as a consultant Radiation Oncologist and Radiotherapy Specialist for the last 11 years.

Q2. Why did you choose your particular specialty?

I have always enjoyed using new and complex technology. Radiotherapy is continually evolving and there tends to be major technical advances every 5 years or so.

I have treated patients with cancer for many years, but have recently become fascinated with the use of radiotherapy in treating benign (non-cancer) conditions. 

Q3. What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I get great satisfaction from seeing patients in clinic who feel that no-one is listening to them, and reassuring them that I can help.

Q4. What one thing do you wish every member of the public knew? 

Radiotherapy is not just useful for cancer. Whilst we use very high doses of radiation to treat patients with cancer, radiotherapy can be used in much lower doses to treat a whole range of benign conditions very successfully.  

For instance, radiotherapy given for: 
– Osteoarthritis – reduces pain in 85% of patients, improves quality of life and function 
– Dupuytren’s- disease – reduces need for surgery by three times and helps to maintain hand function 
– Keloid scars – reduces recurrence after surgery from 85% to <10% 
– Psoriasis – results in an 80% response in “difficult to treat” areas (e.g. scalp and hands/feet)

Q5. What three traits define you? 

Enthusiastic, determined, hard-working 

Q6. Who is your inspiration? 

My Grandfather, who was a GP in Cardiff. He was a true pillar of the community and someone who deeply cared about his patients. When I used to visit him we would continually meet people whose lives had been touched by him.

Q7. What accomplishment in your life are you most proud of? 

I played piano at Ronnie Scott’s many years ago with a jazz band. When I was in the dressing room I was over-awed by the photographs of the jazz greats that had played there over the years.

Lately I accompanied my daughter on piano for her violin grade 1 exam and that was a proud moment in a different way.

Q8. If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be? 

I would love to be part of a band at a music festival, accompanying performing musicians all day.  

Q9. What advances in medicine are you most excited about? 

There are so many exciting treatment advances in cancer at the moment. For instance, immunotherapy is a new treatment concept in which the body’s natural immune system is used to attack the cancer. The mechanism, the amazing responses to treatment, and also working out how to manage the side-effects has been a fascinating story.

Q10. What (health) app DO you recommend most to your patients? 

I don’t recommend any specific health apps. However, I now see the majority of my patients via video-consultation and this seems to have been very successful for around 80% of patients. However, I do enjoy the ongoing personal contact that comes with seeing patients in clinic.  

Book a telephone or video consultation with Dr Richard Shaffer

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