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Behind the scenes: What's in store for Mike VI

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BATON ROUGE - LSU's mascot, Mike VI will undergo radiation treatment at Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center after being diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma.

WBRZ got a tour in the treatment vault, where Mike the Tiger will receive radiation therapy.

Doctors at the cancer center, along with veterinarians will work together to bring Mike VI to the facility on Essen Ln. in the near future.

Mike the Tiger will receive treatment by a Versa HD, a high precision radiation therapy system that provides treatment for a wide range of cancers. It allows physicians to deliver a high dose of treatment, without increasing treatment times.

Following sedation and anesthesia, doctors will be working with about 400 lbs. of dead weight. Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center medical physician Jonas Fontenot, Ph.D. says the whole process will take a lot of teamwork.

"Really we're going to defer to the veterinary staff's judgments and expertise in moving Mike around," he said. "I imagine we'll have to make some custom molds or frames or different pieces of equipment."

Earlier this month, a LSU School of Veterinary Medicine found noticed swelling on the tiger's face. Doctors found a mass, about the size of a lemon on the right side of his skull.

Fontenot says Mike VI needs to be in a very specific position and X-rays will help guide doctors to target the tumor with radiation.

"That gives us a 3-D view of their anatomy, both externally and internally," he said. "Using that information we can make fine adjustments in their position."

The radiation treatment itself will take about five minutes to administer. Doctors hope only one treatment will stop the tumor from growing and hopefully shrink it in size.

There's no date set for when Mike will receive this therapy, but doctors say the sooner the better.

Mary Bird Perkins Our Lady of the Lake Cancer Center is absorbing the cost of the radiation treatment.

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