Radiosurgery gives cancer patients new options

Dr. Christopher Leagre looks over the results of a radiosurgery scan.
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A new procedure, called radiosurgery, gives doctors another option to fight cancerous tumors in their patients.

Janice Fadel teaches 4th graders in Carmel.

"They are willing to learn at this age. They are really willing to learn," Fadel said.

She's taught for 40 years and, even as she fights cancer, she doesn't miss school.

"Everybody tells me to stop teaching, but I think that is what is keeping me going," Fadel said.

Janice celebrated being cancer-free five years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"I just thought I was over this, but you are never over this. You are always getting it checked," she said. "It just keeps coming back, but I keep fighting it."

The cancer metastasized, first to her neck, where it was treated with chemo and, more recently, ten spots in her brain.

Her radiation oncologist, Dr. Christopher Leagre at St. Vincent, aimed to do what is too tricky for surgery and what brain radiation failed to accomplish. He used a new Novalis TX Radiosurgery to target each spot with a highly-concentrated dose of radiation.

"One arc of radiation that the machine will put to each spot. Each of these arcs is directed to a specific spot," Leagre said.

A new, customized mask replaces the cumbersome, screwed-in head frame to hold patients in place.

"This will keep them still as possible, down to the millimeter," Leagre said.

Fadel's case is her doctor's most complex and aggressive yet.

"We were able to control disease that might have affected her ability to continue teaching and hopefully that is what we were able to preserve for her," Leagre said.