This radiation oncologist uses advanced treatment technologies to fight cancer.
Dr. Siddhartha “Sidd” Padmanabha grew up in southern California, and completed medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. He decided to specialize in radiation oncology because it combined two of his interests — science and medicine — into a single field. “Radiation oncology allows us to treat patients in a way that’s changed very rapidly,” he says, noting that the technology in this area of cancer treatment is constantly advancing. “Over my lifetime, it’s gone from treating patients in a way that was less precise, to precise treatments that have much fewer side effects,” he says.
One of these advances can be found in the technology used to treat prostate cancer; the procedure is known as brachytherapy. East Jefferson Radiation Oncology, where Dr. Padmanabha works, is one of the leading providers of this type of treatment in New Orleans. When used in prostate cancer, brachytherapy involves the placement of radiation-containing devices in the prostate gland, where they can target tumors. “The procedure takes just a little bit over an hour,” Dr. Padmanabha explains. “This is a very focused, precise treatment.”
Brachytherapy allows radiation oncologists to pinpoint the area of the body that needs radiation, minimizing the effects on healthy surrounding tissue. It can be used to combat a wide variety of cancers, including lung and gynecological cancers. In patients who cannot undergo thoracic surgery for lung cancer, brachytherapy can often work in its place. “I work with some really great thoracic surgeons, but once in a while, when a patient is not a candidate for surgery, we have another great approach for them,” Dr. Padmanabha says.
No matter its location in the body, cancer is a frightening diagnosis. That’s why, when Dr. Padmanabha first meets with patients and their families, he makes sure to answer all of their questions. “A lot of the fear comes from the unknown,” he says. “I try to bridge that gap. I tell them what’s going on, and what we’re going to do about it. I try to educate the patient and empower them.”
Along with acquiring advanced training in brachytherapy, Dr. Padmanabha gained experience in palliative care at the Connecticut Hospice in Branford, Connecticut. This understanding helps him connect with patients who are dealing with a poor prognosis. “We see many cases of advanced cancer, and these are very challenging cases,” he says. “I think it’s important to maximize the quality of life to our capacity. It involves taking an assessment of a patient’s goals and needs, and being frank and honest and open with them. It’s important to emphasize those non-medical aspects of care.”
One of the rewarding parts of Dr. Padmanabha’s career is watching patients move past their cancer. “The best part is when I see someone who came to me with a tough problem, and I see them two, three, five years later and they’re doing well,” he says.
Dr. Padmanabha moved to New Orleans in 2008, and he says the city will be his home for good. “I love my practice, and I really enjoy the people I work with,” he says. “I do think that I’ve found a home in Louisiana. I felt when I came here that there was this kind of spirit of resilience. New Orleans is a really unique and special place.”
Siddhartha Padhmanabha, M.D.
East Jefferson Radiation Oncology
3800 Houma Blvd., Suite 240
Metairie, LA 70006
MEDICAL SCHOOL: University of California San Francisco
RESIDENCY: Yale-New Haven Hospital, Radiation Oncology
BOARD CERTIFICATIONS: Radiation Oncology, Hospice and Palliative Medicine