If you have been diagnosed with a brain metastasis (cancer that has spread to the brain), you are likely weighing your treatment options. Several effective treatments are available, including whole-brain radiation therapy (WBRT) and Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery. But which is the best radiation therapy for you?
Asking your doctor the following questions may help you decide which brain metastases treatment to proceed with:
“How long will treatment take?” Time is of the essence when treating brain metastases. Take, for example, Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery: The entire treatment can be completed in just one session, with patients in and out of the center in a couple of hours. By contrast, WBRT is delivered during multiple treatment sessions; the entire course of treatment takes several weeks to complete.
“Will my brain be exposed to radiation?” When radiation targets the entire brain, as in WBRT, even healthy areas of the brain will be exposed to (and potentially damaged by) radiation. That’s not the case with Gamma Knife treatment. Here, the beams of radiation are specifically positioned to only attack the brain tumor(s). The rest of the brain is spared from the powerful dose of radiation.
“Are there possible side effects?” Most brain metastases treatments carry some risk of radiation side effects. Whole-brain radiation side effects range from short-term symptoms like headaches and scalp irritation to long-term neurocognitive deficits such as memory loss, lack of coordination and speech difficulties (a result of the radiation reaching healthy areas of the brain). Gamma Knife radiosurgery, on the other hand, carries a very low risk of neurocognitive side effects.
“How soon can I get back to my regular activities?” You may understandably be eager to return to your everyday routines. With WBRT, fatigue is common and may persist until your course of treatment has ended. Gamma Knife surgery results in little to no discomfort or fatigue, with patients usually resuming normal activities the day after treatment.
Ready to learn more about Gamma Knife radiosurgery for brain metastases? Contact our center today to schedule a consultation. You can also learn more about our skilled healthcare team, Gamma Knife benefits and other common questions about Gamma Knife treatment.