If you can imagine, hearing you have brain cancer can be very scary - especially if you can't have surgery.
For some that's because the tumor is in a hard to reach area. For others, they may be too sick for an invasive procedure.
But now there is a new way to treat some of these patients, and with very few side effects.
67-year-old Joan Minerva grew up in Scotland, got married, moved here and had three girls.
When doctors discovered she had a brain tumor, naturally her daughters worried.
The original tumor was surgically removed last year. That's when they learned the cancer had started in her lungs.
While she was being treated for that, the brain tumor returned, and this time surgery wasn't the best option.
So Doctor Kevin Judy, a neurosurgeon at Jefferson University Hospital, used a new treatment called NeuroBlate.
A fiber optic cable is placed into the tumor. A laser heats the tissue, which in turns kills the tumor from the inside out.
All of this is done inside an MRI to keep a close eye on the progression.
Dr. Judy explains, "We are constantly imaging the tumor and we can determine the exact temperature of the tissue during the treatment."
He says the goal is to destroy the tumor, without hurting surrounding healthy tissue.
So far, it seems to be working for Ms. Minerva.
And compared to the alternative, a craniotomy, this is much less invasive.
Many patients are able to go home the next day.
"The biggest thing is the recovery would be easier for her and it seems to have been much easier," the doctor said.
As for Joan, it allows her to quickly get back to fighting lung cancer. All while keeping a very positive attitude.
She says, "I'm not dying of cancer, I am living with it. And every day I open my eyes it's a wonderful day."
NeuroBlate is FDA approved, and so far the results are promising. But it is still early and doctors are still collecting data.
As with any procedure, there are risks. However, Dr. Judy says this has the potential to be used to help many more patients in the future.
In some cases, even to replace surgery.
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