Medical travellers with brain cancer to benefit from new gamma knife in Hawaii


Surrounded by thousands of square miles of ocean, Gamma Knife Center of the Pacific is the only Gamma Knife center in Hawaii. Since 1998, Gamma Knife Center of the Pacific has treated more than 1300 patients, many not from the island.

The radiosurgery centre has retired its first Leksell Gamma Knife system and replaced it with Elekta’s latest generation radiosurgery system, Leksell Gamma Knife Perfexion. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a gentler alternative to traditional brain surgery for illnesses such as metastatic disease, which is cancer that has travelled to the brain from elsewhere in the body. With pinpoint accuracy, the system delivers up to thousands of low-intensity radiation beams to one or more targets in a single session. Perfexion provides even greater speed and ease of use than previous models.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Maurice Nicholson explains, "Perfexion is a much faster, more efficient machine to treat multiple metastases in a single visit. This is important because the pendulum is swinging toward treating with stereotactic radiosurgery [SRS] rather than whole brain radiation therapy [WBRT]. Studies have shown that there is decreased mental function at four months in a higher percentage of WBRT patients. Perfexion will be good for the patients and good for doctors."

More than one-third of the 140 patients who come to Gamma Knife Center of the Pacific each year have brain metastases. The numbers are rising due to advances in tumor imaging and better screening, which result in earlier detection and diagnosis. With new treatments, people who are diagnosed with cancer live longer; therefore, there is a greater chance of developing metastases."

With Perfexion, the center's staff of eight neurosurgeons, five radiation oncologists and one physicist is well equipped to handle increasing demand. The new system allows them to easily double the number of patients they have been treating. This extra capacity means the centre can now actively seek medical travellers , rather than just wait for them to approach.

Gamma Knife surgery is usually a single-day procedure with no specific convalescence associated with it, making this therapy ideal compared to radiation therapy or open surgery in which the combination of treatment and recovery may entail weeks or months. Gamma Knife Center of the Pacific has been the focus of this activity for years, treating patients from Australia, New Zealand, Samoa, Guam, Taipei and Canada.

Sean Nicholson says "Our location in Honolulu, just 10 minutes from Waikiki, presents a great opportunity for people seeking Gamma Knife treatment in close proximity to one of the world's most famous vacation destinations. We always strive to provide access for patients outside of Hawaii. Our staff works closely with patients to schedule and coordinate appointments, assist with travel arrangements and lodging, provide cost estimates and work with insurance companies to secure payment."



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