New radiation therapy option could extend life and improve quality of life for some brain cancer patients

UC San Diego Health is the first hospital system in San Diego to deliver a new, highly targeted, precisely placed radiation therapy that delays tumor regrowth while protecting healthy tissue in brain cancer patients.

As the only academic medical center in the region, UC San Diego Health is committed to providing brain cancer patients with the most innovative and effective treatments available. This new treatment option may extend the life of some patients and improve their quality of life. »

Marc Schwartz, MD, neurosurgeon at UC San Diego Health

The new FDA-approved approach, called GammaTile, uses small seeds of radiation, or brachytherapy, that are implanted at the site of the tumor during surgery and naturally absorbed into the body to treat malignant and recurrent brain tumors, including gliomas, glioblastomas and meningiomas.

UC San Diego Health began offering the new brachytherapy treatment option in July 2022.

Each therapy seed, approximately the size of a postage stamp, contains radiation sources embedded in a collagen tile that together deliver a precise, targeted dose of radiation. The radiation immediately begins to target tumor cells in the area where the tumor is most likely to recur.

Over time, once the radiation is delivered, the seed absorbs into the tissues. In a clinical trial evaluating the treatment, the approach resulted in almost twice as many tumor-free months compared to prior treatment for patients with recurrent brain tumors located in the same area.

More than 25,000 people are diagnosed with malignant brain cancer or spinal cord tumors in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society. Aggressive brain tumors can be resistant to treatment and have a high likelihood of recurrence.

The previous standard of care for patients with operable brain tumors is surgical removal of the tumor followed by adjuvant therapy, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Traditional radiotherapy is delivered in 30 treatments, extending over a period of several weeks.

“The number of radiation therapy sessions brain cancer patients undergo can be stressful and time-consuming. This new radiation therapy will allow us to offer an alternative option to certain patients with recurrent brain tumors,” said Parag Sanghvi, MD, radiation oncologist at Moores Cancer Center. at UC San Diego Health. “Ultimately, we will deliver therapeutic doses of radiation to the tumor, while minimizing the additional radiation dose to previously irradiated brain tissue.”

The multidisciplinary team at Moores Cancer Center offers comprehensive brachytherapy options for breast, gynecological, head and neck, skin cancers, as well as ocular sarcomas and melanomas.

According to the 2022-2023 US News and World Report According to the “Best Hospitals” survey, UC San Diego Health is ranked 20th for cancer and 21st for neurology and neurosurgery care, among the nation’s top 50 programs, out of more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide. Moores Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in San Diego County, the highest possible rating for a cancer center in the United States.


University of California – San Diego

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