MAY 9, 2007
 (STAR) Disbelief, anger, confusion, depression ó these are just some of the emotions that people go through when they learn that they have a brain tumor. And the acceptance is not only difficult for them, but for their friends and family as well.

The Philippine Gamma Knife Center (PGKC) provides the best alternatives to brain surgery in the country and is also an organization that helps patients and their loved ones better understand what these brain disorders are.

"Patients are given sessions wherein their disorders are discussed and what the advantages and disadvantages of undergoing the Gamma Knife treatment are," says Dr. Eduardo Mercado, PGKC director.

The Gamma Knife treatment has been proven to be the most successful radiosurgery weapon in the fight against brain disorders. Its efficiency and safety have been well established and documented, with more than 150,000 patients benefiting from it worldwide.

"Most types of tumors show response in 85 to 98 percent of cases. In 75 to 80 percent of patients, they disappear completely within two years of treatments," says Mercado.

Here, Mercado shares some of the most common brain disorders that the PGKC has treated since its inception in 1997.


Meningiomas are the most common tumors of the brain. Though mostly benign, they may cause severe headache attacks, vomiting, visual impairment, memory loss, and even seizures. They may also affect a personís mood and personality, coordination, writing, and speech.

"The stereotactic radiosurgery provided by Gamma Knife is useful in the treatment of meningiomas since it zeroes in on difficult to operate tumors. Skull-based meningiomas, for one, may often recur after operation and conventional surgery may lead to increased cranial nerve dysfunction and other complications. The Gamma Knife treatment, which is non-invasive, reduces these risks," says Mercado.


Acoustic neuromas account for about seven percent of all brain tumors. They start in the cells around the hearing nerve and may grow on one or both sides of the brain.

In the early stages of acoustic neuroma, a patient may experience hearing loss, ringing in the ears, dizziness, and vertigo. As they slowly expand into the skull, they may cause weakness of facial movement and facial numbness.

"The success of the Gamma Knife treatment for neuromas has been well documented. It has treated thousands of patients for over 25 years, with patients establishing quite a high favorable cure rate and re-operation quite rare," says Mercado.

Pituitary adenomas

Pituitary adenomas are abnormal growths in the pituitary gland. Though benign, they can lead to nerve damage, growth disturbances, and changes in hormonal balance.

"Since the pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, it may cause significant symptoms," Mercado says.

These include double or blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, sudden blindness, headache, dizziness, loss of consciousness, nausea, weakness, joint pains, increased sweating and hair growth, easy bruising and palpitations.

It may also manifest itself in the lump in the front of the neck and fat deposits in the area where the neck meets the spine.


Craniopharyngiomas develop in the hypothalamus, an area that is close to the pituitary gland. They are usually found in children or young adults.

"While nearly always benign, they may cause severe symptoms once they go to the other parts of the brain around them," says Mercado.

Their common symptoms include loss of peripheral vision, drowsiness, loss of growth in children, irregular periods, delayed puberty, reduction or loss of sexual drive, fatigue, and low blood pressure, among others.

Metastatic carcinomas

Metastatic carcinomas are very common in the late stages of cancer and account for 20 percent of cancer deaths annually.

They coincide with a primary cancer and usually originate from the lung, breast, colon, kidney, prostate, and pancreas areas.

"The Gamma Knife treatment effectively controls metastatic brain tumors. Its control rates are very high," says Mercado.

For more information on PGKC, visit its offices at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center compound or call 725-9254, 723-7575, or 726-0776.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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