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Tampa General Hospital Offers New Treatment Option for Recurrent Brain Cancer to Improve Quality of Life

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Tampa General Hospital Offers New Treatment Option for Recurrent Brain Cancer to Improve Quality of Life | Pharmtech Focus

Tampa General Hospital and USF Health Morsani College of Medicine physicians are the first in Hillsborough County to bring patients experiencing recurring brain tumors a groundbreaking treatment.

Known as GammaTile, the FDA-cleared procedure places a bio-resorbable collagen tile the size of a postage stamp in the tumor site, immediately following surgery to remove the tumor. The procedure slows the progression of a returning brain tumor by immediately targeting residual tumor cells with precise gamma ray doses before those cells can significantly replicate.

“This new approach broadens future horizons as it increases options for patients with recurrent disease who can’t tolerate more external radiation,” said Dr. John David, assistant professor in the Department of Radiology in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine and director of brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) services and lead physician of radiopharmaceuticals at Tampa General. “GammaTile emits internal radiation in the specific area of the tumor as an additional treatment and it is a game changer for patients with recurrent brain tumors.”

Every year in the United States, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with aggressive brain tumors that spread rapidly, build resistance to some treatments and are often fatal. Surgical re-section, chemotherapy and radiation treatment have been the traditional approaches to combating these brain tumors such as glioblastomas, gliomas, and meningiomas.

GammaTile at Tampa General offers a potentially life-prolonging option when traditional methods, including chemotherapy and radiation, fail to stop the recurrence of aggressive brain cancers. Many patients with recurrent brain tumors have received levels of radiation therapy that make the risk of additional exposure outweigh the potential benefits of more treatment. As a result, these patients are left with surgery as their only option. Unfortunately, tumor-removal surgery alone is rarely enough to prevent the growth of residual cancer cells.

“GammaTile starts targeting any recurring tumor cells immediately upon placement,” said Dr. Richard Tuli, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, chief of radiation oncology at Tampa General and deputy director of the TGH Cancer Institute. “With traditional treatments, patients often had to wait for their surgical wounds to heal before undergoing radiation. Additionally, their treatment likely required multiple visits to receive the recommended dose. GammaTile allows for potentially life-saving radiation treatments to begin as soon as their surgery is complete. The introduction of this treatment is yet another example of the kind of innovation and multidisciplinary care that patients can expect from the TGH Cancer Institute.”

In clinical trials, patients treated with GammaTile therapy required no additional trips to the hospital or clinic and could go about their daily lives. The tile is insulated except for a small area that allows the targeted dose to focus on the site most likely to have a recurrence, which spares healthy tissue and can limit such side effects as hair loss. The tile dissolves harmlessly, so no further surgery is required to remove it.

“By working as a team, neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists can employ this innovative treatment for recurring brain cancer right in the operating room, providing patients with a better quality of life,” said Dr. Harry van Loveren, medical director of Neurosurgery at Tampa General and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. “This is a true multidisciplinary approach that takes the whole patient into account and gives each patient an opportunity to continue fighting brain cancer.”

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