How To Choose a Treatment Option for Brain Metastases

Receiving a diagnosis of any type can be scary, but when the disease spreads to other parts of your body, having access to the most advanced treatments available is crucial. Brain metastases are lesions that develop when cancer from another part of the body, such as the lung, breast and colon, spreads to the brain. Advancements in medicine mean having availability to multiple treatment options to choose from. Read on to learn more about brain metastases treatments and what to consider when choosing the best plan for you.

Treatment Options for Brain Metastases

Your treatment team will consider your diagnosis, age and overall health before presenting you with your best treatment options. Those options may include the following:

  • Surgery to remove the lesion or lesions
  • Medication to fight the tumors
  • Whole-brain radiation
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery (such as Gamma Knife or CyberKnife)

Your doctors may also recommend a combination of the above treatments. The final choice is yours, of course, so you need to consider several factors.

What to Consider When Choosing a Brain Metastases Treatment Option

You will not find one “right” answer about your treatment regimen. Your medical team may suggest several options depending on your specific circumstances. They will take into consideration the following:

  • Your age – Invasive treatments may take a greater toll on older patients.
  • The location, size and type of your tumor or tumors – If your tumor is too close to vital brain functions, your doctors may not want to operate surgically.
  • The likelihood of recurrence or spread – When cancer has metastasized, the chances of recurrence can be higher.
  • Your ability to tolerate medical procedures and certain medications – Your physical, mental and emotional condition all contribute to your tolerance level.

You will have to weigh these factors and consider the risk/reward ratio for each treatment. For many patients, one excellent option is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery called Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

More About Gamma Knife for Brain Metastases

Gamma Knife radiosurgery does not involve a knife or an incision of any kind. Instead, the Gamma Knife is a sophisticated device that directs around 200 gamma rays at your treatment area. These rays pass through healthy tissue without harming it but converge to destroy cancer cells. It is an effective and non-invasive treatment.

The side effects of this treatment are generally mild and typically last for a short period of time. The procedure is usually an outpatient one, and you should be able to return home the same day. Most patients can then resume normal activities within 24 to 48 hours. You may notice a lessening of your symptoms immediately or gradually over the next weeks or months following the procedure. 

Many patients and their medical team choose this option because it is more patient-friendly than alternative options, while still providing excellent outcomes. Other options such as traditional brain surgery or whole-brain radiation may be too risky for you or chemotherapy too grueling for you. While every case is different, is it important to consider the risk/reward option for all of these treatments.

Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used alone, but you may also receive it in conjunction with other treatments. Your medical team will customize your plan depending on your specific situation.

Next Steps for Brain Metastases Treatment

If you have brain metastases, you should thoroughly investigate all of your treatment options, including Gamma Knife. If you would like to learn more about Gamma Knife radiosurgery as a treatment option for your brain metastases, contact The Valley Gamma Knife Center and a Nurse Navigator will be glad to speak to you about possible next steps.

Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Anthony D’Ambrosio, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.A.N.S
Dr. Anthony D’Ambrosio is a board-certified neurosurgeon that specializes in Neurosurgery, Stereotactic Radiosurgery, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery (GKRS) and more. He is the Director of Neurosurgery and Co-Director of the Gamma Knife Program at The Valley Hospital. Dr. D’Ambrosio is an expert in treating patients with trigeminal neuralgia, benign or malignant brain tumors, as well as many other neurological conditions.

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