Wafer Treatment Means Hope for Some
KOMU's Bonyen Lee reports, a new study shows good things do come in small packages and with a little help can buy a little more time for the terminally ill.
"The brain is really who we are."
"This kind of tumor, which is called glioblastoma, it kind of has an ugly name to begin with, it's behavior is among the ugliest type of malignant process we have," explained Dr. Litofsky with University Hospital.
So ugly, patients only had a four to six month life expectancy from the time of diagnosis.
But, in 1996 researchers created a dime-sized device.
Doctors remove the patient's tumor, then wafers containing chemotherapy are put in place.
After surgery, the patient undergoes radiation.
"When the wafer first came out there was a lot of interest, and then there was a little less interest because the survival difference was only a few months," said Litofsky.
But now, a new study combining the wafer with chemo and radiation treatments sparked more interest from doctors.
"The amount of survival we're starting to see is in the range of 20 -30% longer," said Litofsky
At the medical and neurosurgical intensive care unit at University Hospital is where patients having the surgery come to recover.
University health care is only one of three institutions in the country that did the study combining the wafer and oral chemotherapy.
"Aggressive treatment allows them to accomplish goals they might not have accomplished, it allows them to reach closure with their family members, it allows them to tidy up their affairs of state, it allows them to go to the Grand Canyon, if they never did that before," explained Dr. Litofsky.
An opportunity others with this type of brain cancer didn't get in the past.
Doctors occasionally use the wafer for other, less aggressive brain cancers.
But for now, they're just trying to get the combination treatment just right for future patients.