New Procedure Helps Cancer Patients Deal With Pain

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In medicine, doctors not only seek to cure patients but also want to give them a better quality of life.

Mike Schuh reports a new procedure is helping cancer patients at Northwest Hospital.

A week ago, Frank Gerard was in a wheelchair. For the past year, he’s been fighting lung cancer. Then a tumor grew into his spine. He was bedridden; the pain never went away.

“Even while I slept, it would get me up two or three times a night, wake me up,” he said. “I couldn’t even sleep a straight night through.”

Dr. James Frazier is Gerard’s neurosurgeon. His oncologist sent him to Northwest because of a new procedure: the tumor is removed and then a special cement is injected to keep the disc from collapsing.

For most patients, the pain goes away right away. His wife, Barbara, saw immediately.

“I think it’s a life-changing experience for most patients; they’re debilitated from this pain. They have this procedure and at least 95 percent get great pain relief and they’re back to doing what they were doing prior to their procedures,” said neurosurgeon Dr. James Frazier.

The manufacturer says only three or four hospitals in Maryland are offering this procedure. Frazier says success stories like this are one of the reasons why he wanted to become a doctor.

“It’s such a relief to see him constantly not in such pain. It’s such a big relief; it’s like a weight off my shoulders,” he said.

And with the pain gone from his back, the Gerards can concentrate on the continuing treatment for his lung cancer.

Gerard has another, smaller tumor pressing on a different part of his spine. Soon he will have that procedure repeated to help with his remaining pain.

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