High tech tool to treat cancer used to stop facial pain

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 News

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KING5.com

Posted on July 29, 2010 at 5:45 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:44 AM

Imagine experiencing severe pain when you brush your teeth or simply touch your face.  That's how one  woman lived for years until a high tech tool to treat cancer got to the root of her pain and finally destroyed it. 

The Cyberknife is usually aimed at tumors, but its focused radiation beams can also being used to destroy the cause of disabling pain. 

"It's like somebody's taking a knife and going right through on the bone. It's the worst pain you can ever have," said Margorie Exantus.

Marjorie Exantus suffered from Trigeminal Neuralgia, an excruciating condition that causes facial pain. It affects more women than men usually over age 50 and is often misdiagnosed.

"A lot of times patients believe they're having dental problems and they have their teeth pulled and their pain doesn't get better," said Dr. Srinath Sundararaman, radiation oncologist.

Scans show the source of the problem.

"We are aiming for where the nerve is coming out of the brain stem. That is the likely culprit where there is denuded or uncovered nerve that is very irritable," said Dr. Sundararaman.

The Cyberknife locks in on the nerve structure.

"And ask all of our beams to target that structure," said Dr. Sundararaman.

After one 90 minute treatment, Marjorie is now pain free after four years of failing to get relief from three surgeries and many medications.

"I am excited, I'm so grateful," said Margorie. "I can't believe one treatment can make that difference."

"We've seen success rates be at least 70 percent or higher and that's complete symptom resolution," said Dr. Sundrararaman.
 
Most insurance companies cover the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia using the Cyberknife.

For more information:

SeattleCyberKnife.com

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