SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 17, 2023) – A tiny implant, about the size of a postage stamp, is bringing new hope to people with life-threatening brain tumors.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital has begun the use of a novel technology, GammaTile Therapy, to target and treat malignant tumors inside the brain. The first new FDA-cleared treatment for brain tumors since 2011, GammaTile was approved in 2018 to treat aggressive, recurrent brain tumors; the FDA expanded its clearance in 2020 to include newly diagnosed malignant brain tumors.
Sarasota neurosurgeon Peter Mayer, MD, and radiation oncologist Larry Silverman, members of Sarasota Memorial's Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute, brought the new treatment to Sarasota Memorial Hospital earlier this year. The hospital is one of about 100 treatment centers in the nation, and the first in southwest Florida, offering GammaTile to select patients.
"Cancers of the brain are still some of the most challenging to treat," said Dr. Mayer. "Despite decades of work by leading brain tumor specialists across the world, outcomes have not improved very much in the last 30 years. That's why we are excited to provide this new treatment option in our community. Clinical studies show the treatment can delay the recurrence of certain brain tumors and extend and improve our patients' quality of life."
While the treatment is not recommended for all brain tumor patients, it may be appropriate for those with certain ones, such as gliomas, glioblastomas, meningiomas and brain metastases. At Sarasota Memorial's Jellison Cancer Institute, a multidisciplinary team of specialists meets regularly to review challenging brain cancer cases and recommend treatment options they believe will yield the best outcomes for patients.
“Particularly for patients with recurrent brain tumors who may not be able to tolerate more external beam radiation or chemotherapy, GammaTile offers a potentially life-prolonging, supplemental therapy to help prevent another recurrence,” said Dr. Silverman.
After removing as much of the tumor as safely possible, neurosurgeons implant one or more of the collagen “tiles” at the tumor site to eliminate any residual cancer cells that might be hiding in surrounding tissue.
A form of brachytherapy, GammaTile utilizes small radiation seeds that provide an immediate, targeted dose of radiation in a confined area. The tiles deliver about 50 percent of the therapeutic dose within the first 10 days following surgery, which helps prevent residual tumor cells from replicating. The rest of the radiation is delivered within six weeks. Therapy occurs as patients go about their daily life, with no need for repeated trips to radiation centers or isolation from family or others. The tile is insulated except for a small area that allows the targeted dose to focus on the site most likely to have a recurrence, which spares healthy tissue and can limit side effects such as hair loss. The tile dissolves harmlessly into surrounding tissue, so no further surgery is required to remove it.
Every year in the United States, more than 200,000 people are diagnosed with aggressive brain tumors that spread rapidly, build resistance to some treatments and are often fatal. In patients with recurring meningioma and brain metastases, clinical trials of GammaTile have demonstrated the approach resulted in nearly twice as many tumor-free months compared to prior treatment for patients with recurring brain tumors located in the same area.
For a physician referral or more information about treatment at the Jellison Cancer Institute, call Sarasota Memorial’s HealthLine at 941-917-7777 or visit smh.com/cancer
About Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute
Led by the 9-member, publicly elected Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is a regional medical center offering Southwest Florida’s greatest breadth and depth of care, with more than 1.3 million patient visits per year across 2 hospital campuses and regional network of urgent care and outpatient centers. Sarasota Memorial’s Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute is an expanding center of excellence that provides world-class cancer care across the entire continuum of services — from prevention, screening and diagnosis to leading edge treatment, clinical trials, and survivorship support. Learn more at smh.com.