Voices Against Brain Cancer Commends a Surgical Innovation That Lights Up Brain Tumors

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Voices Against Brain Cancer, the organization dedicated to brain cancer research and advocacy, commends an article published in Oncology Nurse Advisor on an innovative research technique that directs resection of brain tumors.

On March 13, Voices Against Brain Cancer (VABC), an organization dedicated to brain cancer research and advocacy, commends the use of a 5-ALA fluorescence guide used to resection aggressive glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) brain tumors as discussed in a recent article in the Oncology Nurse Advisor.

According to the Oncology Nurse Advisor, “Before surgery, the patient ingests 5-ALA, then the tumor cells fluoresce intraoperatively in response to certain wavelengths of light. This can provide information not necessarily available through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is the standard mode of imaging used to detect primary and recurrent GBMs. The additional information provided by 5-ALA fluorescence can guide surgeons in the treatment of individual cases.”

Because a patients’ survival relies on immediately extracting as much of the tumor as possible, surgeons are faced with a sense of urgency when dealing with GBM patients, and the new procedure enhances and expedites this process. The article describes how surgeons are using 5-ALA fluorescence to identify tumors and have been able to distinguish them from healthy brain tissue, revealing a “pathway between the original and recurrent lesions.”

Describing one patient's case, the article explains some details of the surgeons' process: “During surgery, a blue light was used to activate 5-ALA fluorescence of tumor cells, thus differentiating the tumor from other brain tissue. Using the blue light, the surgeons were also able to detect tumor cells along the lining of the right lateral ventricle, in the ependymal and subependymal regions.”

Michael Klipper, VABC chairman, is excited about the new procedure and says, “This technique is a win for brain cancer treatments and will vastly improve surgeries and will, hopefully, lengthen patients’ life expectancies. The difficult nature of brain tumors has been a serious burden on those afflicted with brain cancer as well as on treatment professionals.” Klipper adds, “We look forward to seeing what the future holds and we’re ecstatic about new procedural innovations like this that improve the odds for those struggling with this deadly disease.”

VABC has a wide variety of initiatives in place for brain cancer research, awareness and support. The organization’s research grants fund cutting-edge research programs that will have a monumental impact on the diagnosis and treatment of brain cancer. VABC currently funds research at several esteemed institutions such as Brookhaven National Laboratory, Cleveland Clinic, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Harvard, John Hopkins, Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Yale, to name a few.

VABC's mission is to find a cure for brain cancer by advancing scientific research, increasing awareness within the medical community and supporting patients, their families and caregivers afflicted with this devastating disease.

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Alicia McAllister
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