Following the diagnosis of a brain tumor, the next step will be to work with your doctor to develop the right treatment plan for you. Taking the time now to become more informed about your treatment options in the New Jersey area is a great way to play a more active role throughout the treatment planning process.
The following is a discussion of the benefits of brain tumor surgery, as well as an alternative treatment option, Gamma Knife radiosurgery. While your personal doctor will be the best person to discuss the benefits of each as they relate to your individual condition, it can be helpful to have a broad understanding of the general benefits each procedure offers to patients diagnosed with brain tumors.
An Overview of Brain Tumor Surgery
Your doctor may recommend surgical resection, or removal, of all or part of your tumor. Brain tumor surgery takes place in a hospital while you are asleep and typically requires a stay of 3-5 days. There are some particular cases where your doctor may recommend brain tumor surgery, including:
- Your brain tumor is especially large.
- Your brain tumor is very small and in an easily accessible area.
- Your brain tumor is aggressive, and time is of the essence.
- You are a good surgical candidate without complicating health conditions.
- A tissue sample is required for diagnosis.
Following brain tumor surgery, you can expect a short period of activity restrictions. The length of time will vary between patients based on individual health factors and the type of brain tumor treated, but most patients can return to normal activities and work in 4 to 8 weeks.
An Overview of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
As opposed to surgery, Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a relatively minimally invasive alternative treatment method for your brain tumor. It does not require any scalpels, incisions or even a hospital stay. Instead, it is a specialized form of radiation therapy performed in an outpatient setting that uses nearly 200 individual beams of energy to target your brain tumor while sparing healthy nearby structures.
There are many patients who may benefit from Gamma Knife radiosurgery, including those who prefer a minimally invasive treatment or who are not good candidates for surgery. Brain tumors that can be treated using Gamma Knife radiosurgery include:
- Acoustic neuroma
- Brain metastases
- Pineal tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Skull base tumors
- Vestibular schwannoma
Benefits of Brain Tumor Surgery
Before recommending any procedure, your doctor will take into consideration the benefits and risks of each. One benefit of surgery is flexibility, in that your doctor can remove all or just part of your tumor. Surgery can be combined with an adjunct therapy, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery. For example, if your tumor is particularly large, your doctor may remove a section of it, then follow with Gamma Knife radiosurgery to ensure no tumor cells remain. Some types of brain tumors will always be followed up with radiation therapy after surgery.
Another benefit of surgical removal of your brain tumor is when a tumor is completely removed surgically, it has a reduced chance of recurring. Though this depends on the type of brain tumor and whether or not it can be removed in its entirety with surgery alone, this possibility is one brain tumor surgery benefit.
Benefits of Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Because of its minimally invasive nature and high degree of precision, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can offer many benefits to patients. Because the treatment takes place in an outpatient setting, you will be able to return home the same day, typically within a few hours of the end of your procedure. This means no hospital stay and minimal disruption to your daily life.
Similarly, most patients are able to return to all normal activities, including work, within a day or two. Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery is minimally invasive, there is no incision site to heal, no risk of infection and reduced pain and discomfort overall. Side effects are transient, mild and can be managed using medications.
One reason the side effects of Gamma Knife radiosurgery are mild when compared to traditional radiation therapy is the precision and accuracy of the technology. One particular delivery system available in northern NJ, the Leksell Gamma Knife Icon, can treat an area with at least 0.15 mm accuracy. That’s the width of just two human hairs. As a result, surrounding healthy tissues receive less dosing, and you experience fewer unpleasant side effects.
Two Treatment Options, Each with Benefits
Both surgery and Gamma Knife radiosurgery offer benefits to you, the patient, as a treatment method for your brain tumor. Surgery offers your doctor the ability to remove all of the tumor, helping prevent recurrence, and it may be used as part of a combination approach with radiation therapy. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a minimally invasive option, without the need for a hospital stay, reduced pain and a shorter recovery time.
Your doctor will take these benefits into consideration before making any treatment recommendations. If you find you still have questions about Gamma Knife radiosurgery or brain tumor surgery benefits, be sure to bring them up with your doctor at your next appointment. The more confidence you have in the process, the more at ease you will find yourself throughout.