Science + Technology

UCLA Surgeons to Wield Powerful New Weapon that Offers Hope to Patients with Brain Tumors

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Calling it the most significant advance in radiosurgery technology ina decade, physicians at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center today opened the firstfacility in the United States offering BrainLAB's Novalis B a shaped beamsurgery system designed to treat brain tumors.

Shaped beam surgery uses precise and detailed computer-generated imagesthat exactly mirror the shape and size of a patient's tumor. Each beamof radiation conforms to the tumor's dimensions, specifically targetingand -- unlike conventional beam radiation -- treating diseased tissue whileleaving nearby healthy tissue unharmed.

The precision and flexibility of the new system also allows UCLA CancerCenter physicians to deliver relatively small doses of radiation over thecourse of several days of treatment, enabling neurosurgeons to treat largetumors and lower the risk of complications and side effects.

"This is a major breakthrough in radiosurgery," said Dr. AntonioDe Salles, an associate professor in UCLA's Division of Neurosurgery andchief of Stereotactic Surgery. "A shaped beam gives us the highestdegree of precision, so we know we're reaching every part of the tumor.As for the patient, the procedure is done in 30 minutes and they go homeknowing they've received the best treatment available in the United States."

The state-of-the-art technology begins operation at UCLA as the numberof people nationwide diagnosed with brain tumors continues to increase.In 1997, an estimated 114,000 people were diagnosed with brain tumors,an increase of more than 5 percent since 1995, according to officials atthe national Central Brain Tumor Registry.

While the first U.S. application of this new technology at UCLA initiallyfocuses on brain surgery, where the precision and accuracy provided byNovalis are vital, experts predict a wide range of uses throughout thebody in the near future.

"We know radiosurgery is very effective in the brain, and we feelconfident that it will be as effective in other areas of the body,"said Dr. Tim Solberg, co-director of UCLA's Radiosurgery Program and amember of the Jonsson Cancer Center.

UCLA researchers expect to launch in the near future clinical trialsusing Novalis to attack cancers in the neck, spinal cord and prostate,Solberg said.

Novalis manufacturer BrainLAB, a German-based company, is a leadinginnovator in the development and distribution of medical equipment andsoftware systems for neurosurgery. In 1996, BrainLAB partnered with Varian,an international electronics company and the world's largest vendor ofmedical linear accelerators, to develop Novalis.

Persons interested in setting up appointments or consultations regardingNovalis can call UCLA physicians at (310) 825-9775 or (310) 794-1221.

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For more information about UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center, its peopleand resources, visit our web site at http://www.cancer.mednet.ucla.edu.For more information on Novalis, visit BrainLAB's web site at http://www.brainlab.com.

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