SDGKC: For the Most Common Brain Tumors, Precision Medicine Offers Best Treatment

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Brain tumors, like those caused by meningiomas, are often difficult to operate on using traditional medical interventions. New hope for effective treatment is offered through the use of precision-based medical therapies, like the gamma knife® surgical system.

Paul Crowe, Managing Partner at San Diego Gamma Knife Center, discusses Brain Tumor Awareness Month and the importance of precision medicine to combat metastatic brain tumors.

Options for brain surgery like the gamma knife® provides a precision therapy for treating brain tumors.

In the United States alone, up to 36% of primary brain tumors are meningiomas(1,2), and up to 300,000 people each year develop other types of metastatic brain tumors(3). Though most meningiomas are benign, metastatic brain tumors are known to grow and spread quickly throughout the brain(3). As efforts focus on finding more effective treatment options, the San Diego Gamma Knife Center offers a precision-medicine based solution to dealing with many types of tumors.

Some types of brain tumors are particularly deadly for two groups of patients: women and children. In many women, brain tumors often cause symptoms that are attributed to other diseases, and a positive diagnosis is often delayed(4). Additionally, up to 25% of all pediatric deaths can be attributed to brain tumors(5).

Diagnoses of these types of tumors are commonly delayed because symptoms can take months or years to develop, and often they mimic those that are caused by other diseases(4). Patients and caregivers often do not recognize that something is seriously wrong until the tumor has progressed.

In light of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, the importance of developing precision-medicine based diagnostic and surgical options for brain tumors is more important than ever. Traditionally, therapies for these types of tumors have included an initial surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation. However, due to the nature of some metastatic brain tumors, effective surgical treatment utilizing contemporary methods can be difficult(1, 3, 6).

Shannon Wickliffe, a Registered Nurse Patient Coordinator, who works closely with Doctors Ken Ott and Kenneth Shimizu (Medical Directors at the San Diego Gamma Knife Center), explains, “Part of the problem is that [brain] tumors can be located in difficult to reach areas of the brain that are not safe to operate on using traditional, invasive surgical methods.”

While work continues on better diagnostic methods for these types of tumors, focus is also shifting to precision medicine-based treatment options, such as non-invasive Gamma Knife® brain surgery. Physicians that utilize this option are able to tailor treatment to each individual patient, delivering a dose of radiation to the brain that is accurate down to the submillimeter(7). As a result, there is minimal damage to the brain tissues surrounding the tumor(7).

Paul Crowe, the Managing Partner of SDGKC, explained “Options for brain surgery like the Gamma Knife® provides a precision therapy for treating brain tumors. Since a diagnosis usually comes after the tumors have advanced, this precision-based treatment could offer new hope improving both the quality and life expectancy of patients.”

Gamma Knife® is an out-patient surgery treatment that is minimally invasive. It is a one-time treatment, a precision non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain in a precise manner. San Diego Gamma Knife Center treats patients with metastatic brain tumors from across the globe. The facility has treated over 4,000 patients with precision medical technology that continues to advance further. For more information on San Diego Gamma Knife Center please visit,

About San Diego Gamma Knife Center:

Since its opening, the San Diego Gamma Knife Center has treated over 4,000 patients with various brain disorders from around the world. The facility is equipped to provide cutting edge treatment for a variety of conditions, including metastatic brain tumors, primary brain tumors, arteriovenous malformations, and functional disorders such as trigeminal neuralgia and cluster headaches.

The Center offers the use of its facilities to some of the top neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists in southern California. It is also a proud partner of the Neurosciences Department of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, helping to provide accurate diagnoses, treatment, and support for a range of neurological conditions and disorders. To learn more about the San Diego Gamma Knife Center, please visit

1.    "Meningomina." Cancer.Net. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
2.    Ciattei, Jennifer. "Meningioma | Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery." Meningioma | Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. N.p., 06 Feb. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
3.    "Metastatic Brian Tumor." American Brain Tumor Association. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2017
4.    Ashley. "Brain Tumor Awareness Month - Why Women Experience a Greater Delay in Brain Tumor Diagnosis." CelebMix. N.p., 13 Mar. 2017. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
5.    "Precision Medicine Advances Pediatric Brain Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment." Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.
6.    Kieffer, Sara. "Meningioma Treatment | Johns Hopkins Meningioma Center." Meningioma Treatment | Johns Hopkins Meningioma Center. N.p., 09 Oct. 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2017
7.    Mayo Clinic Staff. "Brain Stereotactic Radiosurgery." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.

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Karla Jo Helms
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