1 in 69 men and 1 in 65 women in the UK will be diagnosed with a brain, intracranial or other central nervous system tumour in their lifetime, with more than 12,000 such new cases each year.  Sadly, 88% will not survive the disease for 5 years or more.

Normally when a person is diagnosed with a tumour of this nature they will be assessed by specialist doctors and treatment is generally one or more of surgery / radiotherapy / chemotherapy.  The surgery is usually by way of craniotomy which involves cutting a hole in the skull and operating on the brain to remove or debulk the tumour.  Unfortunately, the location of the tumour sometimes means it is not possible to carry out this type of surgery.

Where craniotomy / open neurosurgery may be impracticable or carries too high a risk, an alternative treatment available in the UK is Stereotactic Radiosurgery, such as the GammaKnife® Radiosurgery service at the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust National Centre for Stereotactic Radiosurgery.  The centre has been operating since 1985.

Contrary to its name, GammaKnife® Radiosurgey is not a knife.  Stereotactic Radiosurgery involves focussing an array of beams of gamma radiation on the tumour, even in locations not deemed accessible for open neurosurgery, to treat the abnormal tissue and with little to no damage to surrounding tissue.  It has been used to treat many thousands of patients achieving very high success rates and with the following benefits:

  • Allows treatment of inoperable tumours
  • Accurate to less than 1 millimetre
  • Lower complication rates than microsurgery/open surgery
  • Highly effective
  • Minimally invasive – avoids craniotomy
  • Carried out with curative intent rather than palliation
  • Repeatable
  • Lesser side effects
  • Little to no detrimental impact on quality of life of the patient
  • Reduced hospital stay because often carried out as a day case with local anaesthetic
  • No requirement for hospitalisation in a High Dependency Unit or Intensive Therapy Unit

Stereotactic Radiosurgery is suitable for treating a number of different conditions, including:

  • Neuroma
  • Pituitary Adenoma
  • Glioma
  • Meningioma
  • Ocular Melanoma
  • Brain Metastasis
  • Ependymoma
  • Pilocytic Astrocytoma
  • Haemangioblastoma
  • Glomus Jugulare Tumours
  • Arteriovenous Malformations
  • Cavernous Venous Malformations
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia

It is not the case every patient with these conditions would be suitable for Stereotactic Radiotherapy. However, it should be the first treatment choice for many conditions. It has been suggested many more patients should be referred for and would benefit from the treatment than is currently the case.  A limiting factor is that the patient needs to be referred for treatment and there is a reported reluctance or failure by some clinicians to refer patients due a lack of knowledge of the treatment and potentially because it is seen as a competitor to traditional microsurgery.  As a result, patients are missing out on a treatment option which may have provided them with a better outcome.

As clinical negligence lawyers we often represent people who have suffered avoidable harm due to failures of medical care or inappropriate treatment.  We know how difficult life can be for those who have suffered a life altering condition and for their families.  We are able to assist by ensuring they are compensated for the harm, have access to the services they require, have the funds to pay for private care allowing them to live their lives as comfortably as they possibly can.  We also represent the families of those who have sadly died in such circumstances.

Freeths Clinical Negligence Solicitors have a national reputation for providing first class advice on all medical claims.  If you are concerned about the medical care you or a loved one has received, please contact one of our national team for a free confidential discussion.

The Freeths national clinical negligence department is headed by: 

Jane Williams, Partner (Nottingham/Leicester/Sheffield/Leeds) - 0845 272 5724 jane.williams@freeths.co.uk

Carolyn Lowe, Partner (Oxford/London/Bristol/Milton Keynes) - 0186 578 1019 carolyn.lowe@freeths.co.uk

Karen Reynolds, Partner (Derby/Birmingham/Manchester/Liverpool) - 0845 274 6830 karen.reynolds@freeths.co.uk

For further information please also visit our website at: https://www.freeths.co.uk/nottingham-clinical-negligence-solicitors/