From Elizabeth H. Levick, MD, radiation oncologist with OHC
February 20, 2020
Despite the odds for patients diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, OHC is offering these patients a fighting chance with more targeted techniques of delivering radiation and help with side effects.
The five-year survival rate for patients with a cancerous brain or central nervous system (CNS) tumor is approximately 34% for men and 36% for women. At OHC, we’re hoping to improve these numbers through advanced radiation treatments such as Gamma Knife and GammaTile.
One of the greatest developments in the treatment of cancerous brain tumors is the ability to deliver radiation that targets the tumor while protecting nearby healthy tissues. In the past, patients would have been treated with radiation to the entire brain. Today, we use targeted radiation that is so precise it attacks the cancer cells and limits radiation to nearby healthy cells, which typically results in fewer side effects.
One of those advancements is Gamma Knife, available through OHC. A team of highly-trained specialists use Gamma Knife technology to deliver intense radiation doses to the targeted area while sparing surrounding tissue. The radiation is delivered with pinpoint precision from multiple sides of the head onto the tumor. When these multiple beams meet, the result is a highly targeted high dose of radiation right at the center of the tumor.
OHC patient Kathleen Chapman can attest to its effectiveness.
Kathleen was diagnosed with lung cancer that had spread to her brain. Her team of OHC doctors recommended Gamma Knife for her brain tumor. “I felt better immediately after the Gamma Knife procedure. I couldn’t believe it,” Kathleen said. “Before, I felt uncoordinated, disoriented and my handwriting was bad. When I woke up after the procedure, my mind was clear. Later, my handwriting was normal and I was able to take my dog, Jack, for walks again.”
Unfortunately, many brain tumors return, and patients feel as though they are starting over from square one. Now, we’re giving them real hope to stop recurrence with GammaTile, which was developed to reduce the recurrence of brain tumors. GammaTile is a tiny 3D tile – 2 centimeters by 2 centimeters – that is embedded with four radioactive cesium seeds. GammaTile is placed in the tumor by neurosurgeons and it immediately begins to target tumor cells with radiation while limiting the impact on healthy brain cells. OHC radiation oncologists work with the surgeons to determine the amount of radiation needed in the tile based on each patient’s situation.
By far, one of the worst brain cancers is glioblastoma, an aggressive type of cancer that is difficult to treat, and the symptoms are hard to live with. Most patients experience headaches, nausea, problems walking, and memory loss. For their families, one of the saddest symptoms is the change it causes in their loved one’s personality.
OHC offers a treatment device called Optune for patients diagnosed with glioblastoma. Optune is made of strips of electrodes that cover a patient’s shaved head. The electrodes create low-intensity, alternating electrical fields that are designed to slow the growth of cancer cells and reduce the symptoms associated with the disease.
“Optune can also shrink the tumor, which reduces pressure on areas of the brain where the tumor is located, thus alleviating symptoms,” explained OHC’s Prasad R. Kudalkar, MD, who specializes in neuro-oncology. “Patients report that the cap is relatively comfortable, and they feel almost nothing while wearing it – no tingling or electric pulses. And, their family members notice a difference. They feel as though their loved one is back to their ‘old self.’”
Although researchers are still searching for new treatments for brain cancer, patients diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor now have better options with the potential for longer remission and fewer symptoms thanks to improved treatments, and OHC is pleased to be able to offer these options to patients in the region. To learn more about treatments for brain tumors, click here or call 1-800-710-4674.Comments (2)