GliaSite Now Available for Brain Tumor Treatment in the Fox Valley

GliaSite Now Available for Brain Tumor Treatment in the Fox Valley

Each year approximately 18,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with primary brain tumors and over 170,000 people are diagnosed with metastatic brain tumors. Treatment for a malignant brain tumor depends on a number of factors, including type, location, and size of tumor, as well as the patient’s age and general health.

A common problem with malignant brain tumor therapy is recurrence. Cancerous tumors often come back within a short period of time after treatment. When they do, they usually grow in or near the same place as the original tumor. Over 80% of recurrences are within 2 cm of the previous tumor location. Scientists are working to develop new ways to limit the amount of tumor regrowth or lengthen the time before the tumor again begins to grow.

Treatment Options

Standard treatment for malignant brain tumors (primary and metastatic) usually includes surgery to remove the tumor and then radiation therapy. Depending on the type of tumor, chemotherapy may also be utilized.

The goal of surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging the brain. This is no simple task as some microscopic component of the tumor may spread in to healthy parts of the brain and make it difficult or impossible to remove all of the cancer. Following surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible, radiation and sometimes chemotherapy are used to treat the remaining tumor. If the tumor cannot be removed surgically, radiation and/or chemotherapy may still be options.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy X-rays to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. It is often used to destroy tumor tissue that cannot be removed with surgery or to kill cancer cells that are left after surgery. Radiation therapy has been shown to significantly improve outcomes for those with brain tumors.

There are several types of radiation therapy:

  • External
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Internal

External radiation as well as Stereotactic radiosurgery have been locally available for a number of years, and have been used in successfully treating a large number of brain tumor patients. Unfortunately, this type of radiation treatment also causes damage to healthy brain tissue, limiting the total dose of radiation a patient may safely receive. For many patients with recurrent tumors, internal radiation delivery is a good alternative to external delivery.


Internal radiation therapy (also called brachytherapy, localized radiation, or implant radiation) involves placing a source of radiation directly into the tumor or the tissue surrounding the tumor. Until recently, brachytherapy involved the placement of a large number of radiation “seeds” directly into the cancerous tissue using numerous tube-like catheters.

The major benefit of internal radiation is that a high dose of radiation may be given directly to the tumor site. The radiation is targeted in the area most likely to contain cancer. At the same time, healthy tissue around the tumor is less likely to be damaged by radiation. Good clinical results have been documented using this type of radiation therapy.

Unlike external beam radiation, internal radiation therapy does not require the radiation to pass through healthy tissue to reach the cancerous area. Because of this, internal radiation is an option for patients who have already had their limit of external beam radiation. This approach can be used to deliver radiation to a recurrent brain tumor. Internal radiation therapy can also provide a boost dose following external beam radiation for initial tumor occurrences. However, until now the complexity and complications associated with internal radiation delivery have limited use of the therapy. The GliaSite RTS has made this effective treatment easier to use.

GliaSite RTS is a new system designed to deliver internal radiation therapy to patients with malignant brain tumors. It maximizes the benefits of internal radiotherapy while minimizing the disadvantages. The GliaSite RTS enables physicians to offer internal radiation therapy to more patients than ever before. The GliaSite RTS consists of a balloon catheter and a unique liquid radiation source called Iotrex.

The GliaSite RTS is designed to be used after tumor removal surgery, or tumor resection. After surgery, the uninflated GliaSite balloon catheter is placed inside the space left by the removed tumor. The other end of the catheter is extended out under the scalp of the patient. The balloon is filled with a solution (contrast medium) that is visible on an MRI. This allows the physician to verify that the balloon fits the cavity left by the resected tumor. Once the patient has recovered from surgery, the contrast medium is removed from the balloon and Iotrex, a liquid radiation source, is inserted into the catheter and into the balloon. Lotrex delivers radiation to the edges of the tumor cavity, targeting places where cancer cells may still exist. The Iotrex stays in the catheter for approximately 3 to 7 days until the right amount of radiation is delivered. The Iotrex is then retrieved and the GliaSite catheter is removed during a brief surgical procedure.

Potential Advantages

The GliaSite RTS offers patients a number of advantages over other forms of radiation therapy. The source of radiation is placed in the area most likely to contain remaining cancer cells. A minimal amount of healthy brain tissue is exposed to radiation. Because damage to healthy brain tissue is minimized, the GliaSite RTS is an option for brain cancer patients who have already received external beam radiation therapy. Hospitalization and internal radiation treatment is usually completed in one week, compared to the 6 weeks often needed for external beam radiation therapy. Side effects associated with external beam radiation and chemotherapy are avoided.


GliaSite RTS is now being utilized by Dr. Wascher and Dr. Greene at the NeuroSpine Center of Wisconsin. Working in collaboration with the Radiation Oncology Specialist with the Radiation Associates of Appleton, our neurosurgeons are finding the application of the GliaSite RTS a huge stride forward in the difficult treatment of malignant brain tumors. Please call 920-882-8200 for more information on brain tumors and GliaSite RTS.

For more information call 920-882-8200 or 1-888-231-5236

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