Brain Cancer Radiation Therapy, Treatment & Side Effects
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Video: Radiation TherapyLearn about radiation therapy
CTCA radiation oncologist Dr. Bernard Eden describes the different types of radiation therapies we use to target cancer cells while minimizing damage to normal tissues.
Radiation Therapy for Brain Cancer
Many brain cancer patients at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) receive radiation therapy as part of their individualized treatment plan. Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to destroy brain tumor cells and to relieve symptoms, like pain or discomfort, caused by a tumor.
Our expert radiation oncologists use highly-targeted radiation therapy delivery systems that allow us to increase the dose and precision of radiation to a brain tumor, while minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue.
Radiation therapy for brain cancer patients is commonly used after a biopsy, or following surgical resection of a tumor, to destroy any microscopic tumor cells left behind. It may also be an option for unresectable brain tumors or metastatic brain tumors (tumors that have spread to the brain from another part of the body).
Since lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain, some individuals with lung cancer receive radiation as a preventative therapy to stop metastatic brain tumors from developing.
Types of Brain Cancer Radiation
The specifics of your brain cancer radiation therapy plan will be based on several factors, including the type and size of the brain tumor and the extent of disease.
External beam radiation, in which radiation comes from a machine outside of the body, is commonly used for brain cancer. The area radiated typically includes the tumor and an area surrounding the tumor. For metastatic brain tumors, radiation is sometimes given to the entire brain.
The following are some radiation therapies for brain cancer:
- CyberKnife® VSI™ Robotic Radiosurgery System
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS)
- Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
- Image Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)
Addressing Brain Cancer Radiation Therapy Side Effects
Depending on your radiation dose, site, and other factors, radiation therapy for brain cancer may cause certain side effects. Fatigue, hair loss, skin irritation and edema (brain swelling) are common side effects of radiation for brain tumors. Sometimes, individuals develop a blood clot in the leg, causing swelling of the foot, ankle or calf.
As you receive brain cancer radiation therapy, your CTCA care team will work with you to proactively manage any side effects. For example, we may prescribe steroids to help reduce swelling, or blood thinners to dissolve blood clots and prevent them from traveling into the lungs.
You’ll also receive supportive therapies, like nutrition therapy, naturopathic medicine, pain management, oncology rehabilitation, and mind-body medicine, to help combat any side effects of radiation or other treatments you receive. These therapies will help keep you strong so you can continue treatment while maintaining your quality of life.
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