Non-Surgical Approach to Removal of Brain Lesions

James Ruffer, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

I hope I am not troubling you, but I would be grateful for some information about your non-surgical methods of removing brain tumors.

The lesions I suffer are Hemangio Blastoma. I have at least four lesions, two of which are in a delicate position. I am told that removal of these by surgery could cause speech problems and stroke.

The tumors do not occur anywhere other than in the brain, and I have already had one removed four years ago. I currently suffer mild epilepsy.

I have been referred to a radiotherapy department, but they concluded that they could do nothing for me. This means that I will be referred back for surgery in the next few weeks, and was puzzled as to why I could not be treated by alternative methods.

I have seen non-surgical techniques advertised on the Internet by American doctors (Gamma Knife etc.) and am tempted to believe that surgery is a last resort in the rest of Europe and U.S.

I'd like to know if the lesions I have are treatable by a method other than surgery.  
I appreciate your help.

James Ruffer, MD, Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Patients with hemangioblastomas (usually associated with von-Hippel Lindau disease) can have a multitude of lesions. Our experience has been one of a combined approach of standard neurosurgery and radiosurgery.

Standard external beam radiation is not overwhelmingly successful when gross disease remains (about a 50% recurrence rate). Stereotactic radiosurgery is a technique that allows a precise and localized single dose of radiation to a very well defined region. It seems that radiosurgery is an excellent method of treating individual lesions. But, because of the multiple nature of the lesions the approach must be individualized for each patient.  
Thank you for your interest in OncoLink.

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