Treating skull base tumors in the brainstem requires expertise and precision. The brainstem is one of the most critical parts of the brain, with most information for your body passing through it. Being such an important part of bodily function, performing surgery on the brainstem isn’t generally considered safe. One option that has come forward for treating brainstem metastases is the use of stereotactic radiosurgery, such as the Gamma Knife. This treatment uses targeted radiation to treat tumors, overcoming the barrier of traditional surgery. For some time, use of stereotactic radiosurgery on brainstem metastases has been called into question because of the delicate nature of the area, but a report presented at the 2015 National Radiation Oncology meeting (ASTRO) helps confirm that stereotactic radiosurgery is a safe and effective treatment option for these tumors.
This report, Brainstem metastases treated with stereotactic radiosurgery: safety, efficacy, and dose response, looked at clinical outcomes of 161 patients with metastatic tumors within or abutting the brainstem, who were treated with stereotactic radiosurgery. The report showed that this treatment is both safe and effective for patients, and shows that patients can safely receive a higher dose of radiation than has been used for brainstem metastases in the past.
Radiation oncologists at The Valley Hospital have been using Gamma Knife treatment on brainstem metastases for the last three years based on a smaller pool of results that has shown it to be safe. According to Chad DeYoung, M.D., Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at The Valley Hospital, this report “tells us that doses higher than what we traditionally used are safe and will allow us to make this an even more effective treatment option for our patients.”
Learn more about the treatment of brain metastases at The Valley Hospital and the benefits of Gamma Knife.