Without so much as a nick to her scalp, Cheryl Hogarth had major brain surgery on a tumor that had grown to nearly the size of a Ping-Pong ball deep within her brain.

Ms. Hogarth, who at 37 was told her malignant tumor was inoperable and given a prognosis of six months to live, went under the Gamma Knife, no-knife surgery that blasts its target with hundreds of high-intensity radiation beams in a single session. There was none of the cutting, bleeding, general anesthesia, ear-to-ear scar or long recovery associated with traditional craniotomy. She went home that evening.

Two years after the surgery, Ms. Hogarth, a Sacramento mother of two, is a survivor. She takes chemotherapy to supplement the treatment, and the tumor has not grown. “I now have hope that I will be here to watch my children grow up,” she said.

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