• Main Page • Risk Factors • Symptoms • Diagnosis • Treatment • Screening • Reducing Your Risk • Talking to Your Doctor • Living With Brain Tumors • Resource Guide
Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors
There are a several types of radiation therapy that can be used to treat cancer. These include:
External Beam Radiation Therapy
In external beam radiation therapy, radiation is produced by a machine called a linear accelerator. Short bursts of x-rays are fired from the machine at your cancer. The radiation oncologist designs a plan to shape the radiation beam so that it treats the cancer and as little normal tissue as possible.
Like chemotherapy, the side effects from radiation result from injury to the normal tissues. There are many new ways that the radiation oncologist can customize your treatment to try and destroy cancer, while sparing as much normal tissue as possible. The radiation oncologist will determine how many treatments you will receive. They most often occur once a day, often with no treatments on the weekends. Treatments may go on for a number of consecutive weeks.
Radiation therapy can be given to treat cancer at its initial site or after it has spread. In some cases, once cancer has spread, radiation is no longer a cure. However, the treatments can help resolve problems that the cancer may be causing, including pain and weakness.
Radiation is most often given over a number of sessions. In select scenarios, single doses of focused radiation may be of benefit. Re-irradiation of previously irradiated areas increases the risk of normal brain tissue being destroyed. Your radiation oncologist should carefully consider these risks when discussing treatment options with you.
Brachytherapy uses radiation therapy at very short distances. When you receive external beam radiotherapy, the radiation comes out of a machine located about 40 inches above you. By comparison, brachytherapy delivers radiation directly to the cancer using a radioactive implant inside the body.
This treatment has been used with some success in the management of brain tumors. However, the tumor generally needs to be an inch or less in diameter. Ask your radiation oncologist if it is appropriate for you.
Stereotactic radiosurgery involves the delivery of intense, carefully focused radiation to the tumor site. Typically, this procedure takes several hours. It is not available everywhere and is not appropriate for every type of tumor. It is most often appropriate for metastatic brain tumors.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Call your doctor if you:
Brain/CNS tumors in adults. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/braincnstumorsinadults/index . Accessed June 4, 2013.
Brain tumor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated May 28, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2013.
Brain tumor. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/brain . Accessed June 4, 2013.
Radiation therapy. American Lung Association website. Available at: http://www.lung.or... . Accessed June 4, 2013.
Last reviewed June 2013 by Mohei Abouzied, MD; Michael Woods, MD
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at email@example.com