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Vidant, ECU keep cancer treatment close to home with GammaTile

January 24, 2020 posted by Vidant Health News

GammaTile_PressConf-1949(2).pngDr. Matthew Sean Peach, left, and Dr. Stuart Lee speak with the media during a press conference on GammaTile therapy.

Vidant Health and the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University performed North Carolina's first GammaTile procedure, which is an advanced treatment for brain tumors.

This precisely targeted radiation therapy delays aggressive tumor regrowth by implanting 3D-collagen tiles containing Cesium radiation into the tumor site. One advantage for the procedure is that it eliminates the need for additional hospital or clinic visits for ongoing radiation therapy.

Additionally, GammaTile Therapy is crucial to treating rural patients who have already experienced recurrent brain tumors and are unable to travel. The radiation from the GammaTile is transmitted while patients go about their daily lives and is more targeted than other radiation therapies, keeping healthy brain tissue safe from the radiation.

Dr. Stuart Lee, chief of Vidant Neuroscience Care, said the therapy is a breakthrough for a large group of the patients Vidant serves.

“Keeping care close to home is an important part of Vidant’s mission to improve the health and well-being of eastern North Carolina. This procedure enables us to meet that goal while providing effective treatment and improving quality of life for those battling brain cancer,” Dr. Lee said. “I am incredibly proud of the care team here at Vidant as well as our partners at ECU for their tireless work in making this new treatment a reality in the East.”

GammaTile is implanted in the brain after a tumor that has regrown is resected. It is placed in the cavity vacated by the tumor and helps delay regrowth. Dr. Lee said another advantage of GammaTile is that it starts radiation therapy immediately after the tumor is resected. In an external beam radiation case, the tumor is resected from the brain and it typically takes about four weeks before radiation can begin to allow time for the scalp to heal. In that time, the tumor has a chance to start growing back.

It also eliminates the need for patients to make frequent visits to a radiation therapy center. For many brain tumors, radiation needs to be administered five times a week for five to seven weeks. Eliminating travel stress for patients and caregivers already in a compromised position can be a major relief.

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Dr. Matthew Sean Peach, a radiation oncologist at ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and Vidant Medical Center, said GammaTile’s unique ability to save healthy tissue while delaying the possibility of a regrowth is an exciting prospect.

“The use of this technology is a very important event but it’s also very exciting because use of this technology is marking another step towards the shared goal of ECU and Vidant to provide top-notch, high-quality care to the patients of eastern North Carolina,” Dr. Peach said.

GammaTile Therapy is implanted during the same procedure as the tumor resection and starts targeting recurring tumor cells immediately upon placement. 90% of the radiation dose is delivered in 33 days and after 100 days, the radiation sources are considered completely free of radiation. Additionally, the body naturally absorbs the collagen tiles and only small, inactive rods remain in the body.

Dr. Lee said the first patient to receive GammaTile therapy in North Carolina was a perfect example of the people this technology will best serve.

“She is 76, lives in a very rural area, lives alone and does not drive so she depends on her sister to transport her to her doctor’s appointments,” Dr. Lee said. “I talked to her about the fact that she would need radiation after this surgery. I said, ‘You can do it in Kinston or New Bern, those places are closer than Greenville.’ She said, ‘You don’t understand. I can’t go 5 days in a row to radiation. I can’t drive and my sister can’t take me every day.’”

With external beam radiosurgery off the table, Dr. Lee and the patient decided to pursue GammaTile Therapy for treatment. She was operated on for tumor resection, had the GammaTiles placed and was sent home a few days later. Dr. Lee said he saw the patient again recently and she is doing well.

GammaTile was developed at the same hospital where Dr. Lee trained, at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. There, many rural patients are served and the technology was developed with those patients in mind. Dr. Lee said he knew GammaTile could be useful for the people of eastern North Carolina.

The GammaTile Center in Greenville is one of eight in the country and the only in North Carolina. The others are at Emory University in Atlanta, Mayfield Brain & Spine in Cincinnati, The University of Kansas and Menorah Medical Center in Kansas City, University of Minnesota Health and Abbott Northwestern Hospital Neuroscience Institute in Minneapolis, UCHealth at University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, and El Camino Health in Mountain View, California.

See more coverage on WNCT, WITN, WCTI, WAVYThe Daily Reflector, RRSpin.com and The Daily Herald

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