MedStar Health provides treatment for primary and metastatic brain tumors and other central nervous system tumors, offering our patients the most advanced cancer treatment technologies in the region These include the latest technical devices for spinal tumors, from stereotactic microsurgery to laser treatment to replacement of vertebral bodies.
When brain tumors grow, they can put pressure areas of the brain that instigate impairments, health problems, and even life-threatening complications. To treat this, MedStar Health neurologic oncology teams will recommend some combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Treatment options for brain cancer often depend on many factors including:
- Type: whether the tumor is benign or malignant
- Grade: how advanced the cancer is
- Location: where in the brain the tumor is located
- Spread: whether the cancer has spread to other areas of the body
- Personal characteristics: your age and overall health
Your team of experienced radiation oncologists and specialists will thoroughly review the factors affecting your brain cancer and design a treatment plan that gives you the best chance at recovery and works best for you and your family.
When brain tumors are located in delicate or hard-to-reach parts of the brain, radiation is an excellent treatment alternative. MedStar Health offers the following state-of-the-art radiation options for brain tumors:
- External beam radiation therapy gives small, daily doses for safe, effective treatment. The procedure uses a linear accelerator to aim high-energy radiation beams at the tumor. Our specialists treat as small an area of your brain as possible to avoid causing unnecessary damage to your healthy tissue.
- 3D conformal radiotherapy sculpts radiation beams to the shape of a tumor. This is ideal for tumors that have irregular shapes or for those that are close to healthy tissues and organs. We view a tumor in three dimensions with the help of advanced imaging. Based on the dosimetry or treatment plan, we then deliver radiation beams from several directions to the tumor.
- During intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), radiation beamlets (tiny beams) conform to the shape of the tumor and area of risk with the aid of an advanced treatment planning program. This technique allows for different areas of a tumor to receive different highly sculpted doses of radiation, depending on the extent of the cancer. IMRT helps protect healthy tissue and critical nearby organs from unnecessary radiation exposure.
- Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) uses high-quality imaging technology to create images of targeted areas of a tumor during the radiation procedure. Using these images, your radiation oncology team carefully adjusts radiation beams and doses to best fit the size, shape and location of the tumor during your treatment session while sparing normal tissues.
- Gamma Knife is the most accurate tool for treating brain tumors and other neurological disease without open brain surgery. This minimally invasive alternative to conventional grain surgery allows for a safe and effective treatment, typically with fewer side effects. As a result, this is an outpatient treatment.
Gamma Knife is a machine that uses imaging technology to focus hundreds of tiny radiation beams at a precise targeted location of the brain. Specialized equipment keeps your head steady during the procedure so radiation targets only your cancer, not healthy tissue. The procedure delivers a very strong dose of radiation so you generally need just one pain-free session. Since Gamma Knife spares most healthy tissue, you experience fewer side effects from treatment than from other forms of radiation.
- The Trilogy™ Linear Accelerator targets tumors with extreme precision, delivers a high dose of radiation and may require fewer treatment sessions than other forms of external beam radiation. The Trilogy's precise targeting can destroy brain tumors very effectively, even tumors in areas where surgeons cannot reach. It combines the best, wide-ranging technologies used in radiation oncology today into one high-powered precise and fast unit, which also offers stereotactic radiosurgery capabilities.