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When it comes to treating brain tumors, sometimes less is more in the operating room. If it’s a lymphoma, a doctor might want to just get enough tissue to confirm the diagnosis and get out. If it’s an astrocytoma, a surgeon will want to cut out every possible piece of the tumor. The same goes for oligodendroglioma, though for these tumors, getting out the last of a tumor may not be worth damaging the patient’s ability to walk or speak. If they aren’t sure what kind of tumor it is, or whether it might be better treated with radiation or chemo, a doctor might err on the side of caution.

“We’ve got to first do no harm. We typically close,” said Lola Chambless, a neurosurgeon and an associate professor of neurological surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. But when the pathology report comes back days or weeks later,  surgeons sometimes realize, “‘Gosh, this did turn out to be something we want to surgically resect,’” Chambless said — which may mean a patient has to go under the knife again.


“Anything that can avoid that scenario I think is incredibly valuable,” said Chambless.

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