Following your meningioma diagnosis, the next stage is to work with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that best suits your individual condition and needs. You may be surprised to learn that there are options for meningioma treatment without surgery. Many patients appreciate these options, as they eliminate the risks associated with surgery while providing the benefits of less pain and a shorter recovery time.
While your personal doctor will be the best person to make treatment recommendations based on your medical needs and the characteristics of your meningioma, it can be helpful to understand more about meningioma treatment without surgery on a general level. The discussion below will address a little more about your condition, as well as two of the nonsurgical meningioma treatment options available to patients in the New Jersey area.
More About Your Meningioma
To help you better understand your options for meningioma treatment without surgery in northern NJ, it can be helpful to have a little more background on your condition. A meningioma is a tumor that develops from the meninges, the delicate layer of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord.
Meningiomas are characterized by grade, which is based on how aggressive they are. Most meningiomas are benign, which means 98-99 percent of them will grow slowly and not invade neighboring tissue. However, a benign meningioma can still be problematic and require treatment because of its impact on nearby structures.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
Depending on your individual condition, you may be a candidate for meningioma treatment without surgery. Your doctor will typically consider nonsurgical treatment options if your meningioma is benign and relatively small. Some larger meningiomas will need to be surgically removed first, and time may be of the essence for patients with more aggressive meningiomas, necessitating surgical intervention. However, many patients can benefit from nonsurgical treatment methods, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery or fractionated radiotherapy.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a form of stereotactic radiosurgery, an advanced form of radiation therapy that allows your doctor to target a highly specific area for treatment. Using nearly 200 beams of low-dose radiation, the combined effect is a single, large dose to your tumor with an accuracy of 0.15 mm, the width of just two human hairs. As a patient, this means the healthy surrounding tissues are spared, and you will experience fewer unpleasant side effects.
On the day of your procedure, you should arrive at the treatment facility in comfortable clothes. You will not need to stay overnight, so you do not need to bring any extra belongings. At the beginning of your treatment, your doctor will either place a headframe or custom-fit mask on your head to help secure you in position. Your team will take final pre-procedure images to finalize the treatment target, and then your session will begin.
The actual treatment itself typically lasts 15-60 minutes, but could be longer depending on the tumor. Once complete, your doctor will remove the headframe or mask, and you will be able to return home within a couple of hours. Because Gamma Knife radiosurgery delivers a large dose directly to your tumor, many patients can be treated with a single session. However, some patients may require up to five treatment sessions.
Most patients are able to return to normal activities and work within 1-2 days following Gamma Knife radiosurgery. During the first couple of days, you may experience mild headaches or nausea, which can be eased with medications. You may also feel tired during this time. Some patients have slight irritation and swelling at the headframe sites on the scalp, but this is temporary, lasting only a few days before resolving.
Fractionated radiosurgery is similar to Gamma Knife single treatment radiosurgery. In fact, your doctor can use the most advanced stereotactic radiosurgery device currently available, the Gamma Knife Icon, to treat your meningioma either in a single treatment or over 2-5 treatments. The difference comes down to differences in the dosage and frequency of your treatment.
While Gamma Knife single and fractionated radiosurgery delivers large doses of radiation in 1 to 5 treatment sessions, conventional radiotherapy uses smaller daily doses of radiation to treat your tumor over a longer period of time. Treatment of meningiomas using conventional radiotherapy will typically require five treatments a week for a period of six to seven weeks.
Your Meningioma Treatment Without Surgery
As you can see, there may be nonsurgical treatment options available to treat your meningioma without the need for surgery. However, keep in mind that some patients will require surgery because of the size or aggressiveness of their tumor. Your personal doctor will be the best person to work with to develop a treatment plan that is right for you and your individual condition.
If your doctor has not discussed the possibility of meningioma treatment without surgery in NJ and it is something you are interested in, be sure to bring it up at your next appointment. He or she will be able to discuss the possibility of nonsurgical treatment and how it relates to you and your situation.