Gamma Knife Allows Docs to Treat Cancer Without Surgery

Imagine you receive a potentially life altering diagnosis - like this UNM graduate, who was told he has a brain tumor.

He didn't want to undergo surgery, so he opted for a surgery-free treatment.

It's called Gamma Knife treatment, but there's actually no knife involved at all. It's something only Lovelace Medical Center offers here in New Mexico.

"I had tons and tons of headaches, I was kind of losing my balance, I was missing a lot of work," said Fitz Glasgow.

He was just 31 when he found out he had a brain tumor.

"It was very crushing. I made it through two conflicts at war, you know, I played football in college and something that I cannot even see or feel might end up killing me."

Glasgow graduated from UNM's Pharmacy School and though he was living in Hawaii at the time of the diagnosis, he decided to move back to Albuquerque so he could get the Gamma Knife treatment at Lovelace Medical Center.

"It's almost like an invisible knife with the way it works. It can eradicate tumors and in Fitz's case, it can keep them from growing," said Dr. Amanda Story with the Lovelace Cancer Care Program.

Unlike chemotherapy or neurosurgery, Gamma Knife uses precise radiation to pinpoint the tumor.
"It's pretty much equivalent to surgery, there's about a 95 percent control rate," said Dr. Story. She said in Glasgow's case, he only needed one treatment and it took about 45 minutes.

"Most patients have little to no side effects after the procedure and they're able, the day following the procedure, they're up and around," she added.

Glasgow had the procedure done the day after Thanksgiving. He says he was back to work on Tuesday.

Dr. Story says it's too early to tell if his tumor shrunk, but Glasgow says he already feels better.
"We went from, wondering if I need to get better life insurance to, I'm going back to work and now I can play with my daughter and stuff," Glasgow said. "The prognosis, to me personally, looks very good."

Lovelace Medical Center recently updated its Gamma Knife machine. There are fewer than 100 like it in the world.

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