July 26, 1999 WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center recently became the first medical center to use an innovative treatment system for brain cancer known as the GliaSite Radiation Therapy System (RTS).
The Medical Center is one of five National Cancer Institute (NCI)-affiliated facilities conducting clinical trials of the investigational device. Developed by Proxima Therapeutics, the GliaSite RTS places a high dose of radiation directly into the tissue most likely to contain residual cancer cells following tumor removal.
The device is implanted during the same surgical procedure conducted to remove the tumor and is later filled with a liquid radiation source. Both are removed within several weeks, completing the treatment.
According to Stephen B. Tatter, M.D., Ph.D., attending neurosurgeon at the Medical Center, radiation is the most effective treatment for many malignant brain tumors. However, current technology prevents doctors from delivering high enough doses to stop many tumors from recurring. Tatter is principal investigator of the clinical trials at the Medical Center and national chairman for the study.
"Implanting radiation directly into the tumor, or brachytherapy, is the most promising technique to accomplish this," said Tatter. "Unfortunately, previous attempts at brachytherapy were extremely inconvenient for patients, and had a high rate of complications such as infection and the need for another operation. The Proxima GliaSite RTS is an investigational device designed to address these issues, making brachytherapy more convenient and safe."
The American Cancer Society projects 18,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year with malignant brain tumors. Nearly all experience tumor regrowth after initial treatment.
Studies indicate survival for patients with recurrent malignant brain tumors is approximately three months without therapeutic measures, five months with surgery alone, eight months with surgery and chemotherapy and 15 months with surgery and internal radiation.
Clinical trials evaluating the patented cancer treatment system are being conducted under the guidance of the NCI's New Approaches to Brain Tumor Therapy program. Other medical centers testing the device are: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta; Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit; and, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
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