BrainTumors.com - Radiotherapy (Radiosurgery)
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Radiotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses high energy waves (radiation) to treat brain tumors. There are several different types of radiotherapy:
- Gamma Knife - Aims radiation waves at the tumor from many angles to kill it. Because it is so precise, it does not damage the surrounding brain tissue. It is a non-invasive treatment with no cutting or bleeding, and no anesthesia. Only 1 treatment is needed. Recovery is fast, and only one session is needed.
- CyberKnife - Similar to Gamma Knife, but uses a robotic system to control the delivery of the radiation beams. The patient does not need the rigid immobilization required by Gamma Knife, because the robotic arm compensates for any movement of the patient.
- The Novalis Radiosurgery System - Offers more treatment options than Gamma Knife. For example, with tumors not spherical (shaped like a ball), it gives a more even dose of radiation than other methods because the strength of the radiation beam can be changed at different times during the proceedure. It also lets lets doctors spread the radiation doses over time (Fractionated Stereotactic Radiation Therapy), which many doctors think is the best way to treat some tumors.
- The Varian Trilogy Stereotactic System - Uses a medical linear accelerator to deliver many different types of radiotherapy, allowing the doctor to choose the most appropriate one for each patient rather than being limited by technology. It offers 3D conformal radiotherapy, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) [shapes the radiation dose to conform to the 3D shape of the tumor], and stereotactic radiation therapy (regular and fractioned). It also features "respiratory gating," where it adjusts for movement of a tumor caused by the patient's breathing. No headframe or implanted fiducial markers are needed, and the average treatment time is less than 30 minutes.
- Proton Beam Therapy - Kill cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. It works by using a particle accelerator that generates protons, which are the positively charged parts of an atom. A proton beam is then created, which can be finely controlled to deliver radiation to the tumor and avoid the healthy tissues nearby. Studies have found proton beam therapy has reduced side effects as compared to traditional radiation therapy. An advanced form is intensity-modulated proton beam therapy, which uses pencil beam scanning to "paint" small groups of protons back and forth through a tumor, giving the neurosurgeon greater control of the doses of radiation.
Note: The information provided on this website was not written by a doctor or cancer specialist, so in all cases you should consult your own doctor about diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment.