Radiation therapy for brain cancer
Radiation therapy can be used to destroy brain tumor cells and to relieve symptoms caused by a tumor. We 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 may be used after a biopsy, or following surgical resection of a tumor, to help destroy 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).
The specifics of your brain cancer radiation therapy plan may be based on several factors, including the type and size of the brain tumor and the extent of disease. External beam radiation 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.
Since lung cancer commonly spreads to the brain, some individuals with lung cancer receive whole-brain radiation as a preventative therapy to stop metastatic brain tumors from developing.
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 care team will work with you to manage 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 care services, 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 may help keep you strong so you can continue treatment while maintaining your quality of life.