Radiation Treatment for Brain Cancer

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Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment

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Brain cancer cells spread into normal, healthy brain tissue that cannot be removed during surgery. That is why radiation treatment is an important part of a treatment plan.

The two goals of radiation treatment are to:

  1. Destroy as many remaining cancer cells as possible.
  2. Keep "dormant" cancer cells asleep as long as possible.

Most patients undergo a series of radiation treatments starting about two weeks after surgery. Planning for radiation therapy is done under the direction of a neuro-radiation oncologist.

Radiosurgery at Swedish

The term "radiosurgery" can be confusing. It's not really surgery at all. Instead, radiosurgery involves robotic "arms" delivering high doses of radiation to a brain tumor.

Because these tools can deliver radiation treatments with pinpoint accuracy, they are able to target cancer cells and spare healthy cells.

Swedish is the only medical center in Seattle to have a radiosurgery center that offers these two highly sophisticated radiation treatment systems:

  • Gamma Knife, which is extremely effective on brain tumors larger than 3.5 centimeters. Gamma Knife is well suited to tumors that have metastasized to the brain from other parts of the body.
  • CyberKnife, which is highly effective on brain tumors smaller than 3.5 centimeters. CyberKnife uses image guidance software to adjust treatment for any patient or brain tumor movement.

Radiosurgery is painless and is done on an outpatient basis. After treatment, people can immediately return to their normal activities.

Most people who have radiation treatment for brain cancer also follow a program of chemotherapy treatments.