Ex SA cricket captain Clive Rice will fly to Bangalore in India on Saturday for treatment for his brain tumour after he collapsed at his house last weekend. He reportedly started to feel ill, then lost consciousness.
Brain scans performed in Cape Town showed that he had a brain tumour. The scans also showed that the tumour was too deep to be removed through invasive surgery.
A look at tumour treatment
Surgery is the mainstay of brain tumour treatment. It involves removing as much of the tumour as possible, while trying to minimise damage to the healthy tissue.
The aim could be either complete removal of the tumour (complete resection) or removing only a part of it in order to facilitate the radiotherapy thereafter (debulking). Complete resection of malignant tumours is usually not possible.
Now the legendary cricket star, who will be 66 in July, will be travelling with his wife, Susan, to a specialist neurosurgery unit in Bangalore in India for specialised laser treatment, known as 'CyberKnife'. This surgery is not available in South Africa.
At Bangalore’s Health Care Global Hospital (HCG), renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Sridhar, will examine Rice.
An emotional journey
Netwerk24 reported that Rice told Die Burger that it would be an emotional journey. Late last year his sister-in-law, Margi Bushall, would have travelled to Bangalore for similar cancer treatment but she passed away days before she would have departed.
Through researching her treatment Rice came to realise that this would be helpful in treating his brain tumour as well. Through the research they discovered the 'CyberKnife' surgery.
What is CyberKnife surgery?
"I'm going to India for CyberKnife surgery", said Rice, according to a sound clip on Sport Rack website. He added that medical professionals in India are the leaders in this field of surgery.
CyberKnife is a robotic radiosurgery system that involves no cutting and is an alternative to surgery for treating both cancerous and noncancerous tumours, states Accuray, a radiation oncology company in the USA.
The procedure will deliver beams of high-dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy. It can be used throughout the body, including the prostate, lung, brain, spine, liver, pancreas and kidney.
The treatment duration is reduced significantly from about 5-6 weeks to a maximum of 5 days with one session per day and a session lasts between 30-90 minutes, says the HCG website.
Dr Satish Rudrappa, neurosurgeon and CyberKnife consultant, Brain and Spine Associates at HCG Hospitals in Bangalore told DNAIndia that CyberKnife surgery, aka radiosurgery, gives high dose radiation to a specific target area without affecting even the immediate neighbouring cells.
A robotic-based radiation therapy
He explained that it is a robotic-based radiation therapy where patients' diseased parts are identified with MRI/CT/PET scans. The tumour is marked using specially designed software and this technology prevents unnecessary radiation that can cause irreversible damage to important areas of the brain like intracranial arteries and visual nerves.
There are Radiosurgery units in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town. All the units utilise a specialised linear accelerator and planning system to perform radiosurgery. These units have experienced teams who perform this technique regularly. It is available in both the state and private sectors.
What's available in South Africa
Professor Jeannette Parkes, head of the Clinical Unit at the Department of Radiation Oncology at Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, told Health24 that, in general terms, radiosurgery is indeed available in South Africa, and has been since 1994.
She says radiosurgery can be performed using several different types of machines, including gamma knife, linear accelerator, proton therapy and cyberknife (a robotic linear accelerator).
For the indication of treating small, benign but deep intracranial lesions, there is no evidence that any one technique is superior to any other. Both linear accelerator-based radiosurgery and proton based radiosurgery are available in South Africa. Gamma knife and cyberknife, however, are no, she said.
The commonest indications for treating with radiosurgery include acoustic neuroma, arteriovenous malformations, meningiomas not amenable to surgery, pituitary tumours, paragangliomas of the skullbase, brain metastases and other small lesions not amenable to surgery.
Sometimes radiosurgery is used on its own. Sometimes it is planned to be used after conservative nerve-sparing surgery to treat residual tumour which could not be safely removed at surgery.
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Rice, who a couple of years ago had an acoustic neuroma (a benign brain tumour that develops in the acoustic or auditory nerve, which is responsible for hearing) removed in Germany, is reportedly optimistic about the procedure.
Health24 will follow his treatment and keep you updated on the procedure and process.