For the first time in North Florida, a unique new radiation therapy for brain cancer patients was used at Orange Park Medical Center in June.
Endovascular neurosurgeon Michael Horowitz performed the GammaTile Therapy, inserting tiny collagen “tiles” into the brain to delay regrowth after a cancerous tumor was removed, according to the hospital.
The tiles — each the size of a postage stamp — immediately begin killing cancer cells and after six weeks or so are resorbed by the body, the hospital said.
“I went into neurosurgery because I want to help people when they are in need of urgent solutions to life-threatening or lifestyle-threatening illnesses and injuries,” Horowitz said. “Participating in their lives during those moments is a unique opportunity to make a difference in their lives.”
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Since the first procedure in June, two additional patients have also received the therapy at Orange Park Medical Center. All are well, he said.
“The treatment option is new and only used when patients have exhausted all other cancer treatment options,” Horowitz said.
Standard tumor removal surgery is followed by several weeks of up to 30 treatments of radiation and chemotherapy, he said.
“It’s an honor to have performed the first surgery in North Florida,” Horowitz said. “Orange Park Medical Center is forward-thinking and constantly evaluating new technology and procedures to improve the health of their community.”
The Clay County hospital was one of the first in the United States to use GammaTile therapy because of Horowitz’s “specialized skills,” according to spokeswoman Carrie Turansky. “Dr. Horowitz has specialized training in many rare procedures that can only be found in a small amount of hospitals in the country.”
Only three other Florida hospitals use GammaTile Therapy: Tampa General, Miami Neuroscience Institute and Advent Health Orlando, according to GT Medical Technologies, which developed the treatment.
The tiles “deliver a precise dose of radiation focused right where it is needed and away from healthy brain tissue,” according to the company. “There is no intense treatment schedule or need for patients and their caregivers to travel to and from a treatment center. Patients receive treatment in the comfort of their own homes, going about their daily life.”
The treatment also “minimizes radiation side effects” such as hair loss, according to the company.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first approved GammaTile’s use for brain-tumor patients in 2018.
About 700,000 Americans are living with a brain tumor, including about 28,000 children, according to the American Brain Tumor Association. About 84,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2021 and 18,000 will die this year because of a malignant brain tumor, according to the association.
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