Highly focused radiation technology provides customized treatment for certain tumors, delivering a potent dose of radiation to a tumor while limiting exposure to normal tissue. Advanced planning and treatment systems enable a radiation dose to be shaped to the three-dimensional structure of a tumor. These systems also allow specialists to vary dosage strength as needed within a tumor.
Although terminology sometimes overlaps, “radiosurgery” is accomplished in a single setting with a high dose of radiation, while focused “radiotherapy” consists of “fractionated” treatments delivered over a period of days or weeks. The goal of either approach is to bombard the tumor – but not healthy tissue – with a destructive dose of radiation.
These noninvasive procedures do not remove a tumor, but are designed to stop its progression by killing its cells – without the risk, cost, hospital stay and recovery time of a traditional surgery. Patients usually go home the same day, with few side effects and little discomfort.
The Gamma Knife®
The Gamma Knife® is an extremely precise, “fixed” radiosurgery system that is ideal for treating tumors in the head. With as many as 201 separate beams of radiation converging at a target, it produces a high dose at the site of the tumor, but only slight exposure at any other single point.
Unlike other systems that have moving parts, the Gamma Knife® remains stationary during treatment. The patient’s head also is stabilized, temporarily attached to a “stereotactic” frame that provides a 3-D targeting system. As a result, the Gamma Knife® is accurate to the sub-millimeter level.
Although Gamma Knife® systems have undergone numerous enhancements through the years, the technology has a history dating back decades, with hundreds of thousands of patients being treated and more than 2,500 professional journal articles being written in support of its use.
Every patient is the center of attention
Focused radiation may be used alone or in conjunction with surgery and other therapies, depending on the type of tumor and the patient’s overall health. These technologies may provide a treatment option for patients who are not good candidates for general surgery and in cases where a tumor is considered inaccessible or inoperable.
At Cedars-Sinai, every patient’s care is planned and provided by a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists and physicists. Dedicated oncology nurses are always available to the patient from check-in to check-out.
Gamma Knife®, Trilogy™, and other radiation therapy services are provided through the collaboration of experts from the Outpatient Cancer Center at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute, the Department of Neurosurgery, and the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center.