Brain surgeons are testing a new surgical technique that turns cancer cells bright colors, allowing doctors to remove tumors more accurately than ever before.
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Innovative Fluorescent Medicine for Brain Tumors Melissa Medley: Joe Jonasen has spent most of his life behind the wheel. For this trucker driving has been a great way to make a living. Joe Jonasen: It was on top here. Melissa Medley: But earlier this year doctors diagnosed him with glioblastoma, a deadly brain cancer that’s tough to treat. Joe Jonasen: If they're going to operate maybe I have a chance to take care of my family and work and that’s what I did. Melissa Medley: For Joe to survive doctors to remove 95% o the cancerous cells which were very close to the area of the brain linked to speech. Dr. Khaled Aziz: We have to maximize that section and also next to that we have a functional outcome for the patient. Melissa Medley: Doctors are testing a technique that makes it easier to visualized cancer cells. Before surgery patients swallow a pill called 5-ALA that reacts with the chemicals in the body. When surgeons look through a scope under ultraviolet light healthy cells turn blue. Cancer cells light up hot pink. Dr. Khaled Aziz: That’s an advantage of the 5-ALA that it allow us to track it because as I told you sometimes you could have differential between tumor cells and brain cells under the microscope. I'm just going to do some testing for you. Melissa Medley: Joe recovered from surgery with his vision, speech and motor skills intact at 66, he can retire but won’t hear of it. Joe Jonasen: We’ll not made our -- I got to work until and a lot of people do. Maybe God bless them but I don’t want to do that. Melissa Medley: A new technique that is giving Joe more time with his family and maybe more time on the road. I'm Melissa Medley reporting.