Diary of a Brain Tumor Patient's Wife

Nov. 4, 1997

Renette Davis

The doctor at U of I said he would be willing to try the radiosurgery. Generally, they don't do that if the tumor is over 4 cm, and Paul's is about 4.5 cm., but he said he thought it could be done. One of the first things they do is a CT scan, and if that shows that the tumor has grown more, he would do what's called fractionated radiosurgery instead. That's where they give smaller doses over a period of days instead of a one-shot dose. It's still fairly new, so they don't really know how much to give each day or how many days to give it, or even if it will really help, but he's willing to give it a try.

There are some risks involved with either method. The main one is radiation necrosis, which is breakdown of normal tissue. That can cause swelling in the brain, which can cause headaches or other symptoms, such as problems with speech. The treatment for necrosis is surgery to remove it, and then we would be back to the risks involved with surgery, namely damage to good tissue causing problems with communication.

It seems like the potential benefits outway the possible risks, so Paul has decided to pursue it. Paul's sister sent a recent article reporting on a study of radiosurgery which indicates that about 50 % of the patients with tumors like Paul's gained about 2 years of extra life. The doctor would like to try to do it a week from next Monday, so we're going to see if we can get the paperwork through.

This doctor works at U of C as well as U of I. We're going to see if HMO will approve U of C, since that would be much more convenient, especially if he does the fractionated radiosurgery. U of C does it as an outpatient where U of I has you stay the night before and the night after in the hospital, so maybe that will convince HMO that U of C is a better deal. We'll see.

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Created: May 8, 1999
Last updated: July 18, 2010