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New Procedure Uses Less Radiation To Treat Cancer

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DURHAM, N.C. — Few surgeries carry the risks of brain surgery, especially when cancerous tumors are removed. The follow-up radiation has the potential to do even more damage, but a newly approved procedure does a better job of stopping cancer from coming back.

Marti Todd can walk, talk, even play with her dog. Before brain cancer surgery last May, she wasn't sure what her quality of life would be. Surgery to remove her tumor was a success, but she still faced the risk of radiation to kill remaining cancer cells. The standard procedure uses an external radiation beam.

"You get healthy tissue damage when you go that way and I've seen the debilitating effects," she said.

Todd agreed to be part of a clinical study for a procedure called


, now approved for standard practice. When the tumor is removed, surgeons insert a balloon catheter that fills the tumor cavity.

A syringe injected into a port beneath the skin fills the balloon with radioactive liquid. The patient can go home while the dose does its job for three to seven days.

"The radiation dose then follows off from the balloon quote quickly, so by the time we're an inch away from the balloon, there is not much radiation dose," said neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Tatter.

Gliasite targets the area where 90 percent of tumors re-occur. Then, the balloon and catheter are removed.

Todd said she is doing well. She is thankful the procedure worked so well for her and now can help many others.

"It was so easy and it just really added to the quality of my life," Todd said.


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