Brain tumors can cause problems ranging from headaches and nausea to balance, coordination, speech and cognitive difficulties. Tumors can either be benign, meaning non-cancerous, or malignant, meaning cancerous. Benign tumors are usually slow growing, but can affect the brain by putting too much pressure on delicate tissues. Malignant brain tumors are usually faster growing. They may be primary brain tumors, which start in the brain, or metastatic tumors, meaning they spread from a cancer somewhere else in the body.
Cranial/Brain Conditions Treated with CyberKnife®:
- Recurrent Astrocytomas
- Recurrent Gliomas
- Brain Metastases
- Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
- Skull Base Tumors
- Acoustic Neuroma
- Pituitary Adenoma
- Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs)
- Trigeminal Neuralgia
Treating Brain Tumors with CyberKnife® Radiation
CyberKnife is one of the most advanced methods of using radiation to destroy and kill cancerous cells in the brain. Using computers, cameras and imaging tools, CyberKnife identifies the exact location of a brain tumor. It uses this information to focus radiation beams precisely on the tumor—and not on any surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike less advanced techniques, CyberKnife does not require patients to wear uncomfortable and invasive head frames during procedures.
Benefits of CyberKnife Technology
The benefits of CyberKnife technology for brain tumors include:
- No need for patients to wear uncomfortable and invasive head frame during procedure
- No hospital stay
- No anesthesia required
- No pain
- Highly accurate
- Avoids major surgery
- Allows patients to return home and to regular routine immediately after treatment
Preparing for CyberKnife Treatment
Your team of trained specialists at Saint Francis will help you understand every step of CyberKnife treatment.
Before you have CyberKnife treatment, you will need:
- Customized facemask – Instead of a head frame, your team will customize a soft, mesh mask for your face that you can see and breathe through easily during the procedure.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan – A CT scan creates a detailed picture of your tumor using computers and x-rays. The CT scan will give CyberKnife the information it needs to pinpoint the exact size, shape and location of your tumor. Many patients may also require an MRI scan to help the physicians accurately pinpoint the tumor and brain anatomy.
During CyberKnife Treatment
- During the treatment, all you will have to do is lie still on a table wearing your custom-fitted mask. The CyberKnife robot will move around your body delivering radiation beams to your tumor. You will not feel any discomfort, and nothing will touch you directly. During the treatment you can even watch a movie on the flat screen TV on the ceiling! Each treatment lasts 30-60 minutes.
After CyberKnife Treatment
- Most brain tumor patients will receive between one to five CyberKnife treatments over the course of a week. After treatment, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities.
- Although most patients experience no side effects, occasionally fatigue may develop lasting for a few weeks. You may be prescribed a medication called Decadron; or dexamethasone to help relieve any possible brain swelling or irritation. It is important to follow the directions provided and decrease the dosage as instructed. If you are concerned about any symptoms you may experience, contact your CyberKnife physician or nurse.
- Patients are seen in follow-up evaluation 4-6 weeks after treatment, then every 3-6 months afterwards. Often, MRI or CT scans may be ordered to evaluate the response to the CyberKnife treatment. Many cancers will continue to show continued response for up to 3-6 months after treatment.