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The Gamma Knife itself is a semicircular, helmet-like structure containing around 200 sources of radioactive cobalt.An MRI scan performed while the frame is attached serves as a "road map" for immobilising the patient's head in the helmet.
All people who are suitable, and meet the criteria, are routinely funded and receive their treatment.Our longest surviving patient has kept going for 19 years after treatment for melanoma (skin cancer).Another Gamma Knife patient with breast cancer has survived 10 years, despite being given six months to live in 1999 when 10 brain tumours were discovered."Each PCT comes up with its own set of rules, based on finance, justified by their reading of the medical literature.If you have two brain metastases and live in Derbyshire, you cannot have Gamma Knife on the NHS, even if it is your only option, because all else has been tried, whereas you may have four treated if you are referred from London or the South West. "More Gamma Knives would not help if we are not allowed to treat those patients who are suitable.It is far less precise than Gamma Knife and can cause sickness and hair loss.
It also damages normal cells along with cancerous ones, and may cause severe side-effects, such as dementia and loss of movement.Although a single Gamma Knife treatment costs considerably more than the estimated £1,500 for a three-week course of WBRT, most neurosurgeons acknowledge that the enhanced quality of life and savings on nursing care more than compensate for the expense."Gamma Knife treatments are highly effective," says Prof Lindquist.They are used to treat about 1,500 people each year.However, many cancer specialists, including Professor Christer Lindquist at the Cromwell Hopspital in London and Mr Andras Keneny at the Hallamshire and BMI Thornbury hospitals in Sheffield, believe that thousands more patients are being denied treatment, which could save or extend their lives, because of a shortage of knives and stringent NHS criteria determining who gets access to it.I have regular checks, but Mr Kemeny says that it's unlikely to cause any more problems.