New Treatment of Brain Tumors

By Britney Glaser - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Traditionally, brain tumors have been treated by surgeries involving lengthy incisions and several weeks of radiation therapy. In this Healthcast, we show you how a procedure called stereo tactic radiosurgery is changing this process.

An evening dinner turned into a major health scare for 62-year-old Sarah Rozas.  "I had tingling in my thumb and in my forefinger on my right hand and it became spastic while we were eating out at a restaurant," says Sarah.

It turned out that Sarah was having a seizure. The next day, she had an MRI that showed a brain tumor - something that due to its size and location needed to be removed immediately.  "We did the surgery on December 4th, 2007," says Sarah.

After Sarah's surgery, she had several follow-up MRIs.  Her most recent one showed  a familiar image: a tumor.  Dr. James Maze is a radiation oncologist at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. After he reviewed Sarah's case, he knew she'd be a great candidate for stereo tactic radiosurgery or SRS, a procedure that had not yet been performed at Memorial Hospital. "It is the precise delivery of radiation to a target or volume from multiple different directions, angles and arcs," says Dr. Maze.

The Trilogy system allows oncologists a precise means of targeting only the small tumor, sparing more healthy tissue around it. Sarah says there was some prep work before her SRS, patients have to be motionless when the Trilogy system encircles them, so there is a mask and mouthpiece used to hold them completely still.

The procedure itself only lasted about 40 minutes for Sarah.  "They put my head in the mask and my mouthpiece in," says Sarah, "and that was it. I laid on the table and I had all of these doctors working on the radiation part of it."

Dr. Maze says there is no immediate effect with this procedure, but over the next few months he should see the tumor disappear.  "It takes time for the body to decompose the dead tissue and remove it from the area where it was treated," says Dr. Maze.

Sarah had the procedure two weeks ago and hasn't had to change any aspect of her daily routine.  "I was free to go home, no after-effects or anything," says Sarah, "matter of fact, I have a Pokeno group that I play with, so when I left here I went to the Pokeno game."

There are several factors that go into determining who's a good patient for SRS. Oncologists look at the shape, size and position of the lesion, as well as the overall health of the patient.