Painless radiation stops dangerous brain tumor
Before Lucille Steven came to Advocate Christ Medical Center, she had already undergone surgery for a benign brain tumor. But later, she began having eye problems. She was experiencing double vision, and her left eye was bulging slightly.
Then, there was the myasthenia gravis, a condition that prevented her muscles from responding to nerve impulses. She’d started treatment with Dr. Melvin Wichter, chair of the neurology department and co-medical director of the Neurosciences Institute at Christ Medical Center, when he noticed something didn’t look right.
“He said, ‘I think you should get an MRI,’” recalls Steven, 51, who has worked in a bank loan office in Chicago for 27 years.
That MRI revealed another tumor on her brain, located behind her left eye. And, in April 2010, she prepared herself for yet another surgery.
“Her tumor was not that large, but it was in a dangerous location, near the nerves that allow for vision and eye movement,” recalls Dr. Keith L. Schaible, MD, a neurosurgeon and co-medical director of Advocate Christ Medical Center Neurosciences Institute.
A biopsy showed that the tumor was benign, but it still needed to be removed. “Dr. Schaible explained that this kind of tumor tends to want to grow back if you don’t get radiation,” Steven says.
Steven underwent CyberKnife, a non-invasive, robotic radiosurgery system. The procedure delivers highly focused beams of radiation to shrink tumors. Because the beams are tightly targeted on the tumor, surrounding tissues are less likely to be damaged than with conventional radiation.
Unlike open surgery, CyberKnife is usually painless, results in fewer complications and does not require a hospital stay.
Steven needed five CyberKnife sessions, which took just two hours each day. She returned to work the next week. Follow-up visits have shown that the tumor has shrunk significantly and her vision is back to normal, requiring no further treatment.
“It was a very good result,” says Dr. Schaible. “The tumor has remained small and stable.”
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