Emory Report

April 24, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 30

New procedure eases brain cancer treatment


Emory Hospital is one of only five medical centers in the country to perform an innovative new procedure for brain cancer patients. The new GliaSite Radiation Therapy System (GliaSite RTS) treatment offers patients hope of controlling a tumor and its regrowth.

Brain tumor treatment usually begins with surgery to remove the tumor, followed by external beam radiation to prevent regrowth. Most malignant brain tumors recur within a short period of time, so radiation plays an integral part in treatment. While radiation has been proven to suppress tumor regrowth, a second course of external beam radiation is rarely an option because of the damage it could cause to healthy tissue.

The GliaSite RTS focuses a high dose of radiation directly into the tissue most likely to contain residual cancer cells following tumor removal. It uses a temporary balloon-tipped catheter to deliver site-specific internal radiation and limit exposure to healthy tissue. The internal radiation inhibits tumor regrowth by impairing the cells' ability to reproduce.

"At the time the tumor recurs, treatment options can be limited because of prior radiation and chemotherapy," said Jeff Olson, a neurosurgeon at Emory Hospital. "The GliaSite RTS offers a simplified, alternative method of delivering intense local doses of radiation to recurrent malignant brain tumors."

The device is implanted during the same surgical procedure conducted to remove a tumor and is later filled with a liquid radiation source. The catheter is then removed within three-to- seven days, completing the radiation delivery. Two weeks ago, the hospital successfully completed its first GliaSite RTS implant. The patient tolerated the procedure and is undergoing outpatient rehabilitation for the brain injury caused by the tumor itself.

"Utilization of this device has provided this patient and his family an additional period of disease control," says Olson. "But more importantly, hope."

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