Brain cancer treatment options boosted with Gamma Knife

August 24, 2012 By Cheryl Powell, Akron Beacon Journal

Until recently, Nanci Redd thought she would need brain surgery if she wanted to stay in Akron, Ohio, to treat uncontrolled dizziness caused by a non-cancerous growth in her head.

Instead, she's scheduled to be the first patient treated with Akron General Health System's new Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion unit.

The $5 million machine uses precise beams of radiation instead of an actual knife to target and destroy and other cranial disorders while minimizing damage to healthy tissue.

Patients who previously required Gamma Knife procedures were referred to Cleveland hospitals.

"This is a service to the community," said Dr. Georges Z. Markarian, chairman of the Neurosciences Department at Akron General. "The technology is really important because it provides a level of care that doesn't exist in this form."

For Redd, a 66-year-old retired bus driver and grandmother from Akron, the Gamma Knife procedure is preferred over .

Without treatment, doctors warned her, the growth could eventually affect her hearing and swallowing.

"For me," she said, "it sounds so much better than surgery. They said I'll just be able to walk out of there by lunchtime."

The acquisition of the Gamma Knife is part of a $30 million investment the health system is making to boost its ability to treat patients with and neurological disorders, said Dr. Sarel "Charl" Vorster, medical director of the institute.

"You have to be able to handle the patient through the whole care cycle," Vorster said.

During Gamma Knife treatments, a , and physicist work together to determine how much radiation to use on the tumor and exactly where to direct it.

Patients receive a when a frame is attached to their head to keep it immobilized, Vorster said. They remain awake for the single treatment, which typically lasts 10 to 40 minutes.

The Gamma Knife can be a good option for some patients who have had lung, breast or other cancers spread to the brain, said Dr. Mitchel L. Fromm, chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Akron General Medical Center.

The Gamma Knife also can be used to treat other brain and pituitary tumors, vascular malformations and functional disorders, such as some tremors and facial pain, Vorster said.

The precision allows minimal damage to nearby healthy tissue while destroying the tumor or malformation, Fromm said.

The goal is to "give as much as you can to the tumor but as little as you can to the normal tissue," Fromm said. "...Just imagine a firing squad with all the marksmen, all the people firing precisely hitting the target."

Explore further: Patients benefit from modern radiation technology

More information: (c)2012 Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at
Distributed by MCT Information Services

Related Stories

Patients benefit from modern radiation technology

February 24, 2012
Patients with tumors and other life-threatening conditions are benefiting from the steady evolution of radiosurgery and radiotherapy, treatments that are often described as "incisionless surgery” or "surgery without ...

Latest advance in precise radiation treatment a powerful addition -- first in the nation

February 14, 2012
UT Southwestern Medical Center has installed a new system to deliver extremely precise and individualized radiation treatment, assuring that cancer patients in the region have access to the latest advances in radiation oncology.

World tallest man finally stops growing, US doctors say

March 16, 2012
Good news for Turkey's Sultan Kosen, at eight foot three (2.51 meters) the world's tallest living man: he can now say with confidence that he's finally grown up.

Recommended for you

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

January 18, 2018
Cancer metastasis, the migration of cells from a primary tumor to form distant tumors in the body, can be triggered by a chronic leakage of DNA within tumor cells, according to a team led by Weill Cornell Medicine and Memorial ...

Modular gene enhancer promotes leukemia and regulates effectiveness of chemotherapy

January 18, 2018
Every day, billions of new blood cells are generated in the bone marrow. The gene Myc is known to play an important role in this process, and is also known to play a role in cancer. Scientists from the German Cancer Research ...

These foods may up your odds for colon cancer

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—Chowing down on red meat, white bread and sugar-laden drinks might increase your long-term risk of colon cancer, a new study suggests.

The pill lowers ovarian cancer risk, even for smokers

January 18, 2018
(HealthDay)—It's known that use of the birth control pill is tied to lower odds for ovarian cancer, but new research shows the benefit extends to smokers or women who are obese.

Researchers develop swallowable test to detect pre-cancerous Barrett's esophagus

January 17, 2018
Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center have developed a simple, swallowable test for early detection of Barrett's esophagus that offers promise ...

Scientists zoom in to watch DNA code being read

January 17, 2018
Scientists have unveiled incredible images of how the DNA code is read and interpreted—revealing new detail about one of the fundamental processes of life.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.