Tossing a tennis ball from one hand
to the other, Dr. Robert Behar appeared carefree as
he talked about his recent marriage and love of air-planes.
As medical director of the Spring Branch Radiation Oncology
Center, Behar, a Twin Lakes resident, has had reason
At 35, he can be considered as a pioneer in radiation
treatment - one of four doctors in the United States
using a new "invisible knife" method of radiation
therapy that causes little or no side effects.
"Body Radiosurgery" has only been available
for about three years. He learned to administer the
procedure in 1997 from its developers at the Karolinska
Institute in Sweden.
At 4 p.m. Friday, patients continue to enter and exit
the bustling office, chatting with their families and
thumbing through shelves of literature on cancer prevention
Behar, who also uses traditional methods to treat patients,
has been pleased with the new procedure.
Body radiosurgery has been used on 70 patients since
January of 1998. A 20- to 40-minute session required
no incisions, no anesthesia and causes no pain. An adaptation
of a "gamma knife" used in treating brain
tumors, the method uses high concentrations of radiation,
but pinpointed to a smaller area to spare healthy surrounding
The method has shown improvement and sometimes complete
success with patients whose traditional treatments have
failed, he said.
Behar's face darkened as he spoke of patients whose
chemotherapy had not worked, or who had been told "to
go home and die."
"If you can't make them well you shouldn't make
them sick," he said. "It's just not worth
it for them."
When it comes time to tell new patients they have cancer,
Behar said he focuses on the treatment instead of the
"You have to tell them the truth but you tell them
the positives," he said. "You tell them that
`yes, it is treatable.' And I have them come in and
sit down with them. I never do it over the phone. That
Behar said although he learned to fly at age 15 and
obtained a pilot's license at 17, he always had a deep
interest in medicine and became interested in research
while at the University of Chicago. He later decided
he wanted to treat cancer patients.
"I find that people who have cancer have a major
problem and they need a lot of help, both physically
and emotionally," he said.
Behar and his wife, Mercedes, were married six months
ago. She recently moved to the United States from Venezuela,
where the couple met, and is now studying English.
The founder of Western Radiation Oncology Associates
Behar is the medical director of the radiation oncology
departs at Spring Branch, Rose and Columbia Conroe medical
centers. A native of Chicago, Behar was director of
brachytherapy at Memorial Regional Medical Center in
He has been medical director of the Spring Branch Radiation
Oncology Center since inception in 1994.
For more information on radiation therapy treatments,