TYLER, TX (KLTV) - It was a season finale shocker. ABC's hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy, not only left fans worried about a main character, but left real-life doctors and cancer survivors concerned.
Grey's fans were glued to their seats, watching as Katherine Heigl's character, Izzy, battled melanoma. She faced two agonizing treatment options: taking a toxic drug or undergoing a risky brain surgery.
"If Dereck cuts the tumor out, I could lose my memory and if he doesn't I could die and I don't know what to do," said Izzy.
But in real life, oncologists say patients have another life-saving option - one the show never mentioned.
"Depending on the size of the brain tumor we would recommend radiation," explained Dr. Coty Ho, M.D., the chief of medical oncology at UTHSC. "For smaller brain lesions now we even have the technology to do what's called radiosurgery...you're giving a more concentrated radiation to a very small part of the brain."
Some cancer survivors say the episode was not only inaccurate but left a feeling of hopelessness.
"There is no cure for cancer Dr. Yang," said the TV character. "There's only us, the two of us right here right here, fighting this thing as aggressively as we know how, and sometimes that means pumping toxins into the patient to kill the cancer."
"At this stage of this particular fictional patient, which is stage four basically, I think would hard press a lot of physicians to say try this particular drug, especially with brain metastatic disease which can cause bleeding into the brain also," said Dr. Ho.
They are concerned about wrong messages in a time when so many believe what they see on TV. Doctors say enjoy the drama, if that's what you like, but be sure to separate fact from fiction.
Dr. Ho says it's also uncommon for such a young person to have melanoma since it takes years and years of sun damage to develop.