Understanding and Treating Brain Metastases: A Closer Look at Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

When faced with a diagnosis like brain metastases, the emotional and physical challenges can feel overwhelming. However, advancements in medical treatments have opened doors to more effective, less invasive options. Among these, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery stands out as a revolutionary approach.

What Are Brain Metastases?

Brain metastases occur when cancer cells spread from their original site to the brain. These metastases, or secondary tumors, can happen with various types of cancer, including lung, breast, melanoma and more. The brain presents unique challenges in cancer treatment due to its critical functions and the blood-brain barrier.

Symptoms and Causes

Symptoms of brain metastases can vary widely depending on the location, size and number of tumors. They might include headaches, seizures, cognitive or speech difficulties, and changes in vision or motor skills, among others. These symptoms arise as the metastatic tumors grow, causing pressure and disruption to the normal brain functions.

Diagnosis of Brain Metastases

Diagnosing brain metastases typically involves imaging studies such as MRI scans, which offer detailed views of the brain’s structure, helping to identify the presence of metastatic tumors. In some cases, a biopsy may be performed to further understand the nature of the tumor and guide treatment decisions.

A Look at Treatment Options

In addressing the treatment of brain metastases, medical experts seek effective treatment methods to effectively eliminate the metastases while positively impacting the patient’s quality of life. Gamma Knife Radiosurgery can be a very effective treatment for tumors under 2 centimeters. Unlike traditional brain surgery, which requires a physical incision, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is a noninvasive treatment that uses focused radiation beams to target and destroy cancer cells in the brain.  Furthermore, Gamma Knife Radiosurgery can effectively reach and treat many brain metastases in any brain location during the same treatment day.

One of the key benefits of Gamma Knife radiosurgery is its precision. Years ago, surgeons used to do whole-brain radiation for these tumors, which caused cognitive problems in many patients. Now neurosurgeons can just focus on the metastases. This pinpoint accuracy minimizes damage to surrounding healthy brain tissue, reducing the risk of cognitive side effects associated with whole-brain radiation therapy.

Additionally, Gamma Knife treatment is often completed in a single session, with patients typically able to return home the same day. Multiple metastases can be treated without a hospital stay. Patients can stay on whatever medications they might be taking—including chemotherapy—and resume normal activities quickly, so there is minimal disruption to daily life. While some patients may experience a flare-up of pre-existing symptoms in the weeks following treatment, this can usually be managed effectively with medication, including steroids if necessary.

Moving Forward with Compassion and Hope

It’s understandable that individuals diagnosed with brain metastases may be dealing with anxiety about the spread of their cancer. But treatments like Gamma Knife Radiosurgery combine effectiveness and gentleness. Receiving that treatment at The Valley Hospital Gamma Knife Center means that patients will receive care from a dedicated multidisciplinary team that includes radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons and others who provide care that respects both the physical and emotional well-being of patients.

Get Your Questions Answered, By a Real Person.

Our Patient Liaison is here to help you understand your next step. After discussing your specific case, she can help you navigate your medical records, answer insurance questions, and connect you with one of our nurses, at no charge to you.

Patient liaisons explain Gamma Knife surgery cost, outcomes, etc.