New approaches are giving patients with brain metastases a new outlook on survival
Most brain tumors start elsewhere in the body, as cancer of the lungs, breasts, colon, kidneys and melanoma (skin cancer) and spread to the brain. This is known as brain metastasis. In the past, patients who were treated with steroid therapy typically survived one to two months. For those who had whole-brain radiation therapy, the survival rate was about four to six months.
Today, doctors have more options for treating brain metastases, and patients are surviving – and thriving – longer. OHC doctors are using radiation technology and immunotherapy to stop the growth of, and in some cases eliminate, tumors in the brain.
One of the most exciting treatments for brain metastasis was the introduction of Gamma Knife. It destroys the tumor cells while causing little or no radiation damage to the surrounding normal tissue. That’s critical because if you harm other parts of the brain, it can affect different functions of the body.
At OHC, we have treated more than 850 patients using Gamma Knife. In some cases, patients experience improvement within minutes the same day of the procedure. Gamma Knife is not a knife and involves no cutting. It involves precision and radiation. It doesn’t require an incision so there are none of the risks associated with incisions and anesthesia. It requires only one treatment, and that usually takes 10-60 minutes depending on the individual case. And we have patients who are living longer with an excellent quality of life. That’s not just a home run, it’s a grand slam against cancer.
Many of the patients also start on immunotherapy after Gamma Knife to combat the primary source of their cancers.
Once we attack the brain metastasis, our medical oncologists step in to tackle the primary source of the cancer. For example, they’ve had great success with immunotherapy drugs to keep lung cancer in check. One of our patients is going on 18 months after her diagnosis, and treatment with Gamma Knife and immunotherapy. She’s walking her dog, goes shopping with friends, and spends more time with her family. As we’ve said, we’re seeing patients living and thriving, not just surviving. It’s a wonderful blessing to be a part of that.
For more information about treatment for brain tumors, Gamma Knife and immunotherapy, call OHC at 1-888-649-4800 or click Contact Us on this web site. You can also click here to learn more about the Brain Tumor Center at The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health.