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December 5, 1980

Intracavitary irradiation of brain tumor

JAMA. 1980;244(22):2497-2500. doi:10.1001/jama.1980.03310220007004

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The little girl became blind in the right eye at the age of 6 years because of a craniopharyngioma. Fifteen years later, after four operations for the recurrent brain tumor, there appeared to be little more that could be done surgically as vision in her left eye began to fail, short-term memory became erratic, lethargy became commonplace, and she continued to try to cope with diabetes insipidus, panhypopituitarism, and a shunt to drain fluid buildup.

At this point, Jesse C. Yap, MD, assistant professor of neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis) Medical School and chief of stereotaxic surgery for the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Hospital, saw the patient on referral. While pondering what could be done, he recalled that radioactive yttrium had been injected into brain tumors for therapeutic reasons by neurosurgeons in Sweden, France, Britain, and elsewhere.

However, yttrium is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for