Targeting Brain Tumors

May 19, 2008 9:30:53 AM PDT
A brain tumor diagnosis is frightening for any patient. What can be even more frightening is treatment. There are a number of treatment methods in use by neurosurgeons today. From surgery to radiation to chemotherapy -- or a combination of those three -- killing brain tumors is a delicate task given the nature of the location. One wrong move during surgery or too much of any treatment method could leave a patient with irreparable damage. Each year, more than 170,000 patients develop cancer that metastasizes (spreads) to the brain from other parts of their body. Ultimately, it's estimated 13,000 Americans die each year as a result of a brain tumor.

TREATMENT OPTIONS: Treating a brain tumor depends primarily on the location of the tumor(s). Surgical removal of all or most of the tumor is considered in most cases, however, tumors can grow in inoperable parts of the brain where reaching the tumor would cause too much damage. For these tumors, radiation and radiosurgery have become common options. Whole brain radiation therapy is frequently prescribed for patients with multiple tumors. However, some doctors report devastating side effects of whole brain radiation. Complications can include neurologic losses, leaving patients with irreversible damage.

RADIOSURGERY AND PERFEXION: Radiosurgery allows for non-invasive brain tumor treatment by means of direct ionizing radiation. The Gamma Knife, invented in 1967 by Lars Leksell, a Swedish neurosurgeon, aims gamma radiation through a target point in the patient's brain. It allows doctors to use high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and tumors in a precise fashion without doing unnecessary damage to surrounding brain tissue. Gamma Knife surgery can also treat vascular malformations and trigeminal neuralgia -- a disorder of the trigeminal nerve causing intense pain in the eyes, lips, nose, scalp, forehead and jaw.

The Perfexion device is the newest expansion on the Leksell Gamma Knife. Reports say it allows for a dramatically increased treatable volume and will increase the number of patients eligible for Gamma Knife surgery by 40 percent. Manufacturers claim the unwanted body dose to the patient is up to 100 times less with Leksell Gamma Knife(R) Perfexion(TM), compared with competing technologies, making it a viable treatment option for young patients and women of childbearing age.

"This treatment offers one of the most efficient and effective methods to stop the growth of certain brain tumors and treat other brain disorders," John Suh, M.D., Chairman of Radiation Oncology and Director of the Cleveland Clinic Gamma Knife Center, was quoted as saying. "With this new technology, patients will only need to receive one outpatient treatment as opposed to other methods that can require multiple radiation treatments over weeks or even traditional brain surgery."

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Cleveland Clinic
(216) 444-5574
http://www.clevelandclinic.com


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