New Surgery 'Burns' Brain Tumors Away

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A new type of surgery is offering hope to people with brain tumors by using heat to "cook" the cancer.

Patient Ruth Perko recently went through experimental brain surgey.

Instead of doctors removing the a tumor, they insert a tiny laser into the mass and use heat to kill the cancer cells.

"We can monitor the temperature rise in the tumor, second by second, while we're scanning the patient," Dr. Stephen Jones of the Cleveland Clinic explained. "And better than that, we can see where we are killing the tumor."

Click the player to watch the report from CBN News Medical Reporter Lorie Johnson.

Surgeons turn off the laser just before hitting normal tissue, and move to another area. It's a painstaking 12-hour procedure.

Surviving brain cancer is often dependant on where the tumor is located.

Doctors hate to see tumors located in the base of the skull, because it's very difficult to reach that area safely through conventional surgery.

However this type of brain surgery allows surgeons to get to tumors that would otherwise be deemed inoperable.

The laser probe is small enough to go where human hands cannot.

"This allows us to steer the laser in different directions, to treat larger areas of tumor and protect normal brain," said Dr. Gene Barnett.

So far only four people have undergone the surgery, but all have done well, and government regulators are expected to approve the technique later this year.

*Originally aired March 12, 2009.

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Lorie  Johnson

Lorie Johnson

CBN News Medical Reporter

Lorie Johnson reports on the latest information about health and wellness. Since medicine is constantly changing, she makes sure CBN News viewers are up-to-date on what they need to know in order to live a healthy life.  Follow Lorie on Twitter @LorieCBN and "like" her at Facebook.com/LorieJohnsonCBN.