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Radiotherapy for brain tumors

Brain tumors can develop in the brain tissue (primary brain tumors) or spread from elsewhere in the body. We call those brain metastases.

Primary brain tumors

Depending on the size and location of the tumor, your specialists (neurologists and neurosurgeons) will look into the best treatment plan for you. Radiotherapy is often an important part of the treatment for brain tumors (gliomas). Depending on your personal situation, we will discuss a radiation treatment plan with you. We can deliver radiation to the tumor after surgery or after a diagnostic biopsy, or to a tumor that started growing after the treatment. The techniques that we use - the most advanced radiation and imaging techniques such as MRI - minimize damage to the surrounding tissue. We also have trials running at our department and hospital, researching new techniques and treatment methods that could further improve glioma treatment. Your treatment team will discuss these studies with you if you qualify for participation.

Brain metastases

A tumor elsewhere in the body that has spread to the brain is called a brain metastasis. Radotherapy aims to treat the symptoms, shrink the tumor, halt its growth, or make sure that all tumor cells in the area are destroyed. The external beam radiation treatment will be delivered to the entire brain, or the tumor’s location only (stereotactic radiosurgery). We always use the latest techniques in our treatment and use a linear accelerator and Gammaknife in the delivery of our external beam radiotherapy. We also conduct trials at our department and hospital researching new techniques and treatment methods that could further improve glioma treatment. Your treatment team will discuss these studies with you if you qualify for participation.

What to expect?

Consultation with your radiation oncologist

CT scan

You will have to come in for a CT scan before your treatment. This is necessary to develop your radiation treatment plan.

External beam radiation

We will ask you to lie down on the radiation table with your head in a support. We will prepare a mask for you before your treatment. This will help fixate your head. You cannot move your head during treatment.

 

Monitoring of radiation room

Radiotherapy lab technicians ensure that you are positioned correctly on the table during treatment. They will follow the progress of your treatment on monitors and the camera and microphone in the radiation room. 

What to expect?

Because all tumors differ in size, location, and stage, we offer precision medicine adapted to the needs of our individual patients. Your practicing physician will collaborate with other specialists to find a treatment option that is right for you. Your radiation oncologist or physician assistant will give you more information about your options. 

Preparation

After consulting your radiation oncologist, you will receive your radiation treatment plan. if you are also coming in for chemotheray, you will be invited to see a neurologist. You will be able to come to the radiotherapy department for an informative consultation about practical concerns.

We will then prepare a mask for you. This is a simple procedure. The mask will ensure that you cannot move during treatment so we can deliver radiation to the right area. Once the mask is ready, we will need to prepare a CT scan. We will draw lines on the mask to help us be more precise in the delivery of your treatment.

Treatment

Your radiation oncologist will come up with a radiation ttreatment plan with 1 to 30 sessions. Each treatment session will take about 15 to 20 minutes, although you will only receive the radiation for 1 or 2 minutes. Radiotherapy lab technicians will deliver the treatment.

Your head will be placed in the mask during treatment. if your treatment requires increased precision, we may make scans on the radiation machine to guarantee precision. You will meet with your radiation oncologist regularly and will be able to discuss any questions or comlaints. if you are receiving chemotherapy next to your radiation treatment, you will also be seen by a neurologist.

Side-effects

You may notice the acute side-effects after two or three weeks of treatment. These will increase in severity over the course of your treatment and may linger for months after its end. Some side-effects may be permanent. Your practicing physician can tell you which side-effects you can expect. 

The most common side effects are fatigue and nausea. You may lose some hair. This will grow back within 3 to 4 months after your treatment.

If you are receiving radiotherapy to treat your symptoms, you should start noticing symptom relief within approximately two weeks following the treatment, if not sooner.

Follow-up care

You will meet with your radiation oncologist or physician assistant every week during your treatment. He or she can answer your questions, prescribe medication, or give you more information about the follow-up screenings after your treatment.

If you would like extra care during or after your treatment, please ask your radiation oncologist or physician assistant to the NKI Survivorship Center. Our physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, and psychologists are experienced in care for cancer patients and would love to offer additional support during and after your treatment.

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