Stereotactic radiosurgery is a highly precise form of radiation therapy used primarily to treat tumors and other abnormalities of the brain and body. Despite its name, stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-surgical procedure that uses highly focused x-rays to treat many types of tumors, including inoperable lesions and as an alternative to open surgery. It can also play a significant role in the treatment of patients who previously received radiation to a particular site. The treatment involves the delivery of high-dose radiation beams that converge on a specific area of the brain or body where the abnormality resides.
Although stereotactic radiosurgery is often completed in a one-day session, physicians sometimes recommend a fractionated treatment, in which treatments are given over a period of several days. This is referred to as stereotactic radiotherapy.
Stereotactic radiosurgery works in the same way as other forms of radiation treatment. It does not actually remove the tumor; rather, it distorts the DNA of tumor cells. As a result, these cells lose their ability to reproduce. Following the treatment, benign tumors usually shrink over a period of 18 months to two years. Malignant and metastatic tumors may shrink more rapidly, even within a couple of months. When treated with radiosurgery, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) begin to thicken and close off.
The Institute for Radiosurgery oncology specialists are an integral part of the multi-disciplinary cancer care team. Working in conjunction with your cancer physician and surgeon, the Institute’s highly skilled radiation oncologists, physicists, and certified radiation therapists will be involved with your actual procedure.
Your Radiosurgery team will inform you of any special precautions. However, in general, there are minimal preparations required. Patients can typically eat and drink normally and take all scheduled medications.
However, you may be asked not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your treatment. You should ask your physician what to do about taking any normal medications on the day of your treatment. You should also tell your physician if any of the following apply to you:
Radiosurgery treatments are similar to having an x-ray. You will not be able to see, feel or hear the x-rays. There is no pain or discomfort from the actual treatment. If you experience pain for other reasons, such as back pain or discomfort from the x-ray table, you should inform your doctor or radiation therapist.