Brain Tumor Radiation Treatment
About Brain Tumors
Facts About Brain Tumors
Radiation Therapy Options for Brain Tumors
External Beam Radiation Therapy
The brain is the center of thought, memory, emotion, speech, sensation and motor function. The spinal cord and special nerves in the head called cranial nerves carry and receive messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

There are two types of brain tumors:

Primary - a tumor that starts in the brain. Primary brain tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant.

Metastatic - a tumor caused by cancer elsewhere in the body that spreads to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are always cancerous.

Primary tumors in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to distant organs.

Brain tumors cause damage because as they grow they can interfere with surrounding cells that serve vital roles in our everyday life.
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Approximately 40,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year.

Approximately 170,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal cord tumor that has spread from another part of the body.
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People with brain tumors should discuss treatment options with several cancer specialists, including a neurosurgeon and a radiation oncologist. A radiation oncologist is a doctor who will help you understand the types of radiation therapy available to treat your tumor. Conventional radiation treatment options for brain tumors include external beam radiation therapy.
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External beam radiation therapy involves a series of daily radiation treatments targeting brain tumor. Painless radiation treatments usually last less than 5 minutes but your appointment time is 15-30 minutes each day.

Usually radiation treatments for brain tumors are delivered daily, Monday to Friday, for two to six weeks. The number of treatments may also depend upon several other factors, including tumor size and location, other treatments you are receiving, and other medical conditions. While these treatments are often performed in a hospital, external beam radiation therapy is an outpatient treatment scheduled as conveniently as possible to fit into your daily schedule.

3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) combines multiple radiation treatment fields to deliver radiation to the brain. Each of the radiation beams accurately focuses on the tumor while trying to minimize nearby healthy tissue receiving radiation.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a form of 3D-CRT that may allow more precise adjustment of radiation doses to the tissues within the target area, possibly allowing a higher radiation dose to the tumor and keeping more radiation away from nearby normal tissues. While IMRT may be helpful in selected circumstances, currently 3D-CRT is the more accepted approach to treatment for primary brain tumors.

Possible problems include skin irritation, hair loss, fatigue, headache, nausea, vomiting, visual changes, and/or unsteadniess. However, the likelihood experiencing any of these symptoms depend upon of many factors that your doctor will discuss with you at the time of your visit.

During treatment, talk to your doctor about any symptoms you may experience. He or she may be able to provide medications or other treatments that may help.
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Doctors are constantly exploring new and better ways to treat primary brain tumors. For some tumors, chemotherapy may be given during and/or after radiation treatment. Ask you doctor whether there is any role for chemotherapy.
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