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stereotactic radiation

lindadanis
Posts: 267
Joined: Nov 2009

Has anyone been treatment for brain cancer using this type of treatment, my husband is stage four esphogeal with a new met to his cerebellum area of his brain. I am trying to find out more about this treatment option vs whole head radiation. thanks for your help.

Linda

HeartofSoul's picture
HeartofSoul
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

Profile of Radiosurgery Options & When for Met to Brain
Stereotactic radiosurgery may or may not be appropriate for a condition. It may be used as the primary treatment or recommended in addition to other treatments that are needed. Only a treating neurosurgeon who operates radiosurgery equipment can make the evaluation as to whether someone can be treated. A neurosurgeon must always be present during treatment and should work with a radiation oncologist when the brain is being targeted.

RADIOSURGERY
Stereotactic radiosurgery uses a large number of narrow, precisely aimed, highly focused beams of ionizing radiation to destroy brain tumors. The beams are aimed from many directions circling the head, and all converge at a specific point the tumor. That method necessitates knowledge of the exact location of the tumor and of any critical brain structures between the tumor and the scalp. This treatment is planned so that each part of the brain through which the beams pass receives only a small amount of the total dose. At the same time, it allows for a large dose to be delivered to the tumor itself. Conventional, external radiation to the entire brain often follows the radiosurgery.

There are three methods of delivering stereotactic radiosurgery: Gamma Unit (Gammaknife), adapted linear accelerators (Cyberknife) and cyclotrons.

The size of the tumor is a determining factor in deciding whether stereotactic radiosurgery is appropriate. Is the tumor small having a diameter of about one inch or less (three centimeters)? If so, radiosurgery may be appropriate. Larger tumors require more beams of radiation. That results in a greater effect on normal brain tissue. Other factors need to be considered to determine if this form of treatment is appropriate.
Are there multiple tumors? If so, what is their size and location? It may be possible to treat as many as three or four tumors, depending on their locations. Has the diagnosis of metastatic brain tumor been confirmed by biopsy? If there was prior radiation, is there an increased risk of side-effects with this modality?

Stereotactic radiosurgery requires minimal hospitalization. There is no risk of infection, and it requires only a short period of time for recuperation. However, the results of treatment are not immediate and there is some risk of damage due to the radiation.
Stereotactic radiosurgery does not offer the opportunity for confirmation of the diagnosis.

Stereotactic radiosurgery may be useful as a boost to other forms of radiation therapy for metastatic brain tumors. The characteristics of those tumors appear to be ideal for that type of focused treatment. Investigational studies are still ongoing since radiosurgery has been used for metastatic brain tumors for only a few years.

tommybear
Posts: 112
Joined: Oct 2009

I had stereotactic radiosurgery in December 2009. I had a partial ressection of a tumor in August (more like a biopsy), and then the radiation.

I believe that the side effects of this treatment are not nearly as severe as whole brain radiation, because the radiologist is able to focus the beams of radiation more precisely. I had very few side effects...some hair loss or hair thinning in places - my tumor is in my left temporal lobe. This type of treatment is normally used for tumors that may be smaller or that are not as receptive to chemo.

The day I had the treatment was a long day. I highly recommend that your husband take whatever relaxing medication they give him. They gave me a small dose of valium and I could have used a larger dose. Be sure that he takes some sort of pain killer - even acetaminophen or something - before treatment.

The first thing that was done was that a frame was put on my head, and I am sure that you have looked up the information on the procedure- but, that was the worst part. The frame is actually screwed really tight and I was told that it will feel like a headband that is squeezing my head. It was much worse. The frame is usually put on early so that the doctors have time to map out where the radiation will go - I had an mri done right after the frame so that the tumor could be pinpointed.

Unfortunately, I had to wait for around seven hours before radiation began. During this time I was lucky to have family there with me, and the clinic where I had the treatment is beautiful and peaceful, so that probably helped. But it was not a nice time. I really don't want to scare you or your husband, but wish that someone had told me that it was going to be difficult so that I could prepare for it.

Radiation itself was a breeze. Felt nothing and was so relieved when the frame was removed. With the type of tumor I have - an astrocytoma, grade II, the results can take a long time, so I don't even know if it was worth it. I am hoping that it was. My tumor has not grown any since December, but has not shrunk either.

I hope that your husband's experience is more peaceful, and that the results are very positive for him. I believe that stereotactic is a better option than whole head, just due to the fact that the radiation is very focused and not able to damage more of the good brain tissue.

Best wishes, and I hope I didn't seem too negative.

Take care,

Michele S.

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