Cone Health Cancer Center using form of noninvasive brain surgery

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- In the same amount of time it takes to drive from Greensboro to Winston-Salem doctors at Cone Health Cancer Center are able to remove a brain tumor. It’s called Stereotactic Radiosurgery. There are no cuts and the patients stay awake for it all.

Cathy Bloom is an active grandma with six grandchildren.

“They know that grandma is strong and grandma is going to make it,” Bloom said.

Bloom has breast cancer.

“Two years ago I wasn't thinking about cancer. I wasn’t thinking about dying was this my last time with my family,” Bloom said.

She recently had an MRI and showed her fight with breast cancer just got bigger. Doctors found a small tumor on her brain. “It’s about the size of a pea it’s not causing her difficulty now but if we had let it grow she would start to get a lot of tumors,” said Dr. Joseph Stern, with Cone Health Cancer Center.

Dr. Stern, Dr. Matt Manning, and several other doctors at Cone Health Cancer Center studied the tumor and decided on a newer approach to attack it.

“Now what we are doing is what’s called stereotactic radiosurgery where we will basically zap the tumor and shrink it and make it go away,” said Dr. Joseph Stern.

Before stereotactic radiosurgery existed doctors had to do series of treatments to the entire brain. Patients could lose their hair and even have short term memory loss.

“This is really a remarkable improvement in radiation,” said Dr. Matt Manning, with Cone Health Cancer Center.

A few days before surgery Bloom has to have a special mask made which will make sure doctors hit the exact spot for radiation.

On the day of the surgery, there are no cuts, no blood and no gloves. Bloom stays awake during the entire process and when the radiation beams are on she doesn’t feel a thing. In less than 30 minutes she is able to get up and walk away from brain surgery.

“I’m not going to give up. I’m going to keep fighting until the end,” Bloom said.

Cone Health Cancer Center has been using stereotactic radiosurgery for the past 18 months. They’ve seen about 200 patients.

Bloom is still taking medicine and getting chemo for her breast cancer. She has a follow-up appointment for her brain tumor in about a week and then will have to get MRI scans ever three months.