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Technology Lets Doctors Treat Tough Tumors

Shaped beam radiation helps with brain, spinal cancer

TUESDAY, Dec. 7, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A new kind of radiation technology called shaped beam surgery lets doctors treat brain and spinal tumors that can't be attacked with conventional surgery.

Shaped beam surgery can mold radiation beams to match the exact size and shape of a tumor. This technology is available at only a few U.S. medical centers, including Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.

"Shaped beam surgery is a major advance in treating both benign and malignant tumors in the brain and the spinal cord regions," Dr. David Andrews, a professor of neurosurgery at Jefferson Medical College and director of the division of Neuro-oncologic Neurosurgery and Stereotactic Radiosurgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, said in a prepared statement.

So far, this new technology has mostly been used to treat benign brain tumors that couldn't be treated before.

"Shaped beam surgery gives us infinite flexibility to deal with lesions from the top of the head to the bottom of the spine. We can wrap doses around structures such as the spinal cord, and can create a very high dose of radiation and leave the cord untouched. There's no other technology out there that can do this," Andrews said.

More information

The Brain Tumor Society has more about brain tumors.

SOURCE: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, news release, December 2004
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