Radiosurgery & Radiation
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, uses high-energy beams (X-rays, gamma rays or protons) to kill tumor cells and keep tumors from growing. Radiation can be targeted to reach the brain tumor without affecting other parts of the body, and may be used before, after or instead of surgery, depending on each patient’s situation. The radiation oncologists at Houston Methodist use the latest technology to selectively attack the tumor. Stereotactic radiosurgery is the use of radiation therapy using methods to manipulate and focus the beam to the precise shape of the tumor to minimize the amount of radiation passing through healthy brain tissue. In this case the radiation is delivered from an external beam. Another delivery method is to implant a radioactive source at the site of the tumor; this is referred to as internal radiation therapy. Your doctor may also consider and discuss surgery and/or chemotherapy with you.
Many brain tumors that were previously considered untreatable can now be treated quickly, effectively and safely with radiosurgery. It is often a successful treatment option for people who have brain tumors that are deep in the brain, difficult to reach or previously thought inoperable. We can treat both primary and metastatic tumors (secondary tumors, or tumors that have spread away from the original site), usually with a single, one-day treatment instead of the usual 20 to 26 treatments required for radiation therapy. Patients formerly thought to be terminal with inoperable tumors can now be safely and effectively treated. Having this technique available often converts a situation with limited life expectancy to one of long-term survival.
The team at the Peak Center consisting of a neurosurgeon, a radiation oncologist, and a radiation physicist work together at Houston Methodist to use highly specialized stereotactic radiosurgery equipment to focus beams of radiation only where they are needed to destroy cancerous or noncancerous growths without damaging healthy brain tissue. These beams are precisely shaped to the complex, 3-D shape of each person’s tumor, which allows physicians to administer higher doses of radiation more precisely and safely than ever before. That makes this noninvasive, nonsurgical treatment less toxic than previous radiation treatments for brain tumors.
Before treatment, 3-D magnetic resonance imaging ( MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scans are performed to give physicians an accurate view of each patient’s internal anatomy and the shape and location of each tumor. Then, the radiation oncologist and neurosurgeons develop a personalized treatment plan that is precise and personalized to each patient’s tumor. The treatment is then run in virtual reality in the computer to see exactly how much radiation is delivered, and if there is any spread to areas that are undesirable. The plan is fined tuned until it is optimal. Patients then receive the treatment.
Novalis® radiosurgery delivers non-invasive, shaped-beam radiosurgery to treat cancerous and noncancerous conditions of the entire body with one-of-a-kind shaped-beam technology.
Shaping the beam precisely to your tumor gives the best possible treatment dose delivered to your tumor while healthy tissue is protected.
As one of the most advanced cancer treatment options available, Novalis radiosurgery offers the benefits of precision, speed, personalized non-invasive treatment:
- No tumor or lesion is perfectly shaped. Novalis shapes the cancer-fighting radiation beam around your tumor or lesion, ensuring that the maximum prescribed dose of high-energy radiation is delivered only to the abnormal tissue. Protects surrounding healthy tissue
- Adapts treatment to your breathing and other body movements so that radiation delivery is always safe, complete and accurate
- Delivers treatment in as little as 15 minutes to 20 minutes for a more comfortable treatment experience when compared with other radiosurgery treatment options
- Reduces the likelihood of body or tumor movements, ensuring that treatment is delivered with the highest possible accuracy
- Offers one-time treatment or a series of treatments based on your doctor’s recommendation
- Flexible treatment options ensure that you receive the best treatment for your condition
- Delivers one of the highest dose rates to treat tumors deep inside the body or brain
- Offers hope to those with conditions once considered untreatable and for whom surgery is not an option
- Frameless radiosurgery offers you a more comfortable and non-invasive alternative to other radiosurgery systems which require immobilization with a head ring that attaches to the skull
Stereotactic Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors
If a brain tumor is located in an area that is especially sensitive to high doses of radiation, the radiation dose may be lowered and delivered over several days or weeks. This is called stereotactic radiation therapy. It allows radiation oncologists to target tumor cells, while allowing the healthy cells that surround it to recover between treatments. As with stereotactic radiosurgery, the doctors use MRI and CT scans to view the tumor and to plan treatment.
Internal Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors
Internal radiation therapy (sometimes called implant radiation therapy or brachytherapy) can also be used to treat brain tumors, although it is not often required. With internal radiation therapy, small “seeds” holding radioactive material are implanted in the brain to deliver radiation for a set amount of time. In most cases, the seeds do not need to be removed after the radiation therapy is complete.
Probably the best way to understand the experience of being a patient at Houston Methodist is to hear from other patients. Listen to other patients tell their stories .