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Lenox Hill successfully treats metastatic brain cancer


Dorothy Emer, 44, from the Bronx, is looking forward to celebrating this coming Mother's Day with her three children ages 9, 15, and 16. She has a reason to celebrate after having received news two weeks ago that the tumors found in her brain, were no longer visible on a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Ms. Emer has come a long way since early January 2018 when she woke up with a sudden onset of severe headache and found herself completely paralyzed on the left side of her body. Her husband drove her to Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH) where an MRI revealed a large tumor that was pushing on the region of her brain that controls movement on the left side. The tumor bled which caused even more brain dysfunction, as it was located near her motor strip.

"Ms. Emer required immediate surgery to remove the tumor and the associated blood that was compressing her brain," said Jason Ellis, MD, neurosurgeon at the hospital's Brain Tumor Center. Dr. Ellis, along with fellow neurosurgeon, John Boockvar, MD, successfully removed the tumor, while preserving her motor function. Dr. Ellis added, "The tumor was found to be a melanoma which had metastasized to her brain. In addition to the large tumor that was completely surgically removed, there were three smaller tumors found in different brain areas. However, since these additional tumors were very small, we decided that the best way to treat the remaining cancer was to use a very targeted high-intensity radiation treatment called Gamma Knife."

In a separate procedure in early February 2018, Dr. Ellis and LHH's radiation oncologist Anuj Goenka, MD, performed Gamma Knife Radiosurgery – a precisely targeted radiation delivered as a single high-dose treatment rather than in multiple sessions as is typical for traditional radiation therapy. Dr. Ellis explains, "The Gamma Knife allows for maximal destruction of the cancer while sparing the surrounding healthy brain tissue." In fact, Ms. Emer underwent a second Gamma Knife treatment one month later when yet another tiny metastatic tumor developed in another location of the brain.

"This precision-focused type of radiation was performed to ensure that Ms. Emer's cancer had a low likelihood of returning in the spot that was treated," said Dr. Ellis.

This past April, a follow-up MRI scan showed no evidence of any remaining brain cancer. "The entire team is very pleased with Ms. Emer's spectacular response to our multimodality treatments," said Dr. Ellis. "We remain vigilant in following Ms. Emer's scans and will treat any new spots if they happen to appear." Ms. Emer is also undergoing immunotherapy to treat the primary source of her cancer.

"Before being diagnosed with cancer, I was existing and getting things done to get through the day," said Ms. Emer. "Now, I am totally in the moment, all of the time. I came back to life and I am very present in every moment. This Mother's Day, my heart is so grateful that I am here to be with my kids."

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About Lenox Hill Hospital

Lenox Hill Hospital, a member of Northwell Health, is a 652-bed, fully accredited, acute care hospital located on Manhattan's Upper East Side with a national reputation for outstanding patient care and innovative medical and surgical treatments. US News & World Report has ranked the hospital among the nation's top 50 in Cardiology and Heart Surgery and among the top 10 hospitals in the state of New York with a total of 11 "high performing" designations for its clinical performance in Cancer, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Ear, Nose & Throat, Gastroenterology & GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology and Urology. For more information, go to

Michelle Pipia-Stiles
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Barbara Osborn
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