Why Painting Tumors Could Make Brain Surgeons Better


Tumor Paint(NPR.org) - September 12, 2013: Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable things a doctor has to tell patients is that their medical problems are iatrogenic. What that means is they were caused by a doctor in the course of the treatment.

Sometimes these iatrogenic injuries are accidental. But sometimes, because of the limits of medical technology, they can be inevitable. Now, a medical researcher in Seattle thinks he has a way to eliminate some of the inevitable ones.

James Olson is a physician at the Seattle Children's Hospital, where he primarily takes care of kids with brain cancer. He's also a cancer researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

MRI reveals the location of a brain tumor. But it's one thing to see the tumor in a scan, quite another to find the tumor in a living brain. Olson says that today, surgeons splay open the brain in an effort to find exactly where the tumor is.

Just doing that can cause problems. And the surgeons can't always tell tumor cells from healthy brain cells, so inevitably the thorough doctors remove some healthy cells too.

The result is that many times a patient's tumors are successfully removed, but the child is left with movement problems or memory problems or vision problems.

About a decade ago, Olson set out on a search for a something that would make it easier for surgeons to find and remove tumors. What he came up with was a product he calls Tumor Paint.

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Shelby Hammond
Communications Manager
Email Shelby
(240) 235-2205



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