Stereotactic radiosurgery is the use of focused, high-energy beams to treat small tumors with well-defined edges in the brain and central nervous system. It may be an option if surgery is too risky due to your age or other health problems or if the tumor cannot safely be reached with surgery. GammaKnife is a type of stereotactic radiosurgery.
Types of External Beam Radiation Therapy
There are many types of external beam radiation therapy, all of which share the goal of delivering the highest prescribed dose of radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. Each type relies on a computer to analyze images of the tumor in order to calculate the most precise dose and treatment path possible.
Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
Image-guided radiation therapy
Stereotactic body radiation therapy
What to Expect When Having Stereotactic Radiosurgery
How Often You Will Have Stereotactic Radiosurgery
Treatment schedules can vary, but treatment is usually given in one dose. In some cases, you may receive up to five doses, given once per day.
How Does Stereotactic Radiosurgery Work?
You will be placed in a head frame or some other device to make sure you do not move during treatment. In stereotactic radiosurgery, many small beams of radiation are aimed at the tumor from different directions. Each beam has very little effect on the tissue it passes through, but a precisely targeted dose of radiation is delivered to the site where all the beams come together.
What to Wear for Your Treatments
Wear clothes that are comfortable and made of soft fabric, such as fleece or cotton. Choose clothes that are easy to take off, since you may need to expose the treatment area or change into a hospital gown. Do not wear clothes that are tight, such as close-fitting collars or waistbands, near your treatment area. Also, do not wear jewelry, adhesive bandages, or powder in the treatment area.
What Happens During a Treatment Session
The radiation therapist will leave the room just before your treatment begins. He or she will go to a nearby room to control the radiation machine. The therapist watches you on a TV screen or through a window and talks with you through a speaker in the treatment room. Make sure to tell the therapist if you feel sick or are uncomfortable. He or she can stop the radiation machine at any time. You will hear the radiation machine and see it moving around, but you won’t be able to feel, hear, see, or smell the radiation.
Most visits last from 30 minutes to an hour, with most of that time spent placing you in the correct position.