Radiation Therapy in New Jersey
enters for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics offers radiation treatment for patients with spine and brain tumors such as gliomas, meningiomas, and pituitary tumors. The award-winning neurosurgeons are experts at providing precise and effective radiation therapy using the most advanced medical technologies. Learn more about the radiation treatment process at CNSO’s comprehensive neurosurgery centers throughout Northern New Jersey.
How Radiation Therapy Works
Radiation treatment directs high-energy beams at a specific location in the body to kill or shrink abnormal cells. This type of treatment can be used to treat both benign and malignant tumors. It is a common treatment method for many types of cancer because radiation can effectively destroy cancer cells and reduce or eliminate their spread. Several types of radiation therapy can be used to treat brain tumors:
- Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS)is a focused therapy that aims a high dose of radiation directly at a patient’s brain tumor. This focused treatment minimizes radiation exposure to the rest of the brain, typically minimizing any side effects. Each individual beam isn’t powerful enough to damage brain tissue, but the beams converge on the tumor with enough strength to kill malignant cells in a defined area. SRS may be recommended particularly for tumors that are difficult to access via surgery. SRS is usually completed in one treatment.
- Whole-brain radiation therapy, in contrast, applies radiation treatment to the entire brain. This can help treat microscopic tumors that don’t show up on an MRI scan. Whole-brain radiation usually requires multiple treatments over a few weeks.
- Proton beam radiationis a unique form of radiosurgery that can treat certain conditions like chordoma tumors that occupy space directly adjacent to critical brain structures that are sensitive to radiation. It uses proton particles to deliver very precise treatment, minimizing the radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. The proton beam stops when it hits the tumor, so unlike traditional radiation therapy, there’s no “exit dose” of radiation to the brain tissue behind the tumor.
Radiation treatment may be recommended as a standalone treatment for tumors or in conjunction with surgical removal. Radiation prior to surgery can shrink a tumor to decrease the risks of surgery. Radiation after surgical removal of a tumor may still be necessary to ensure the complete treatment of any remaining tumor cells.
Patients with malignant tumors may receive radiation therapy in combination with other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or immunotherapy. A patient’s plan of treatment depends on the type of tumor, how much it has spread, and its location in the brain or spine.
Preparing for Radiation Treatment
When a patient is scheduled to receive radiation therapy for a brain tumor, the CNSO medical staff will create a comprehensive plan to ensure the treatment is as effective as possible. Imaging specialists will take brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT). They will also simulate the radiation process so that the patient is positioned correctly and comfortably. They will determine the exact target and dosage of radiation to attack tumor cells while limiting any damage to surrounding brain tissue. A physician may place temporary markings on the patient’s skin to ensure the radiation is directed to the correct spot.
During treatment, the patient rests on a table while the medical team directs radiation via medical equipment, such as a Gamma Knife, Linac, or CyberKnife machine. Treatment sessions are typically less than 30 minutes. The patient may need to wear a head frame or mold to keep them in a specific position, but they shouldn’t feel any pain or discomfort during the treatment. A physician and technicians will be in an adjacent room controlling the treatment, but they’ll talk to the patient throughout the procedure.
Some tumors can be treated in a single session; others require multiple rounds of radiation. After treatment, patients can go home the same day. Some patients can return to work later that same day while others find they need to take some time off after radiation treatments to rest and recover.
Taking Care during Radiation Therapy
Normal, healthy tissue surrounding a tumor can be affected by treatment but will usually heal after radiation is complete. The side effects of radiation can include:
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Hair loss
- Low blood counts
When patients receive radiation treatment directed at the head or neck, specific side effects can occur, such as:
- Mouth sores
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
- Sore throat
Whole-brain radiation can also be associated with cognitive decline. Patients who receive SRS instead of whole-brain radiation are at a lower risk of cognitive decline.
While radiation treatment is less invasive than surgery, the process is still stressful to the body. These steps may help patients to deal with the side effects of radiation:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Talking with a counselor or support group if they are feeling anxious or depressed
- Minimizing stress
It can take several months to see the results of radiation treatment. The physician will schedule follow-up appointments to track any side effects and take additional imaging to determine the effectiveness of the radiation therapy. Depending on the outcome, the team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics may recommend an additional round of radiation or surgical removal of the tumor.
Learn More about Treatment Options at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
Receiving a brain or spine tumor diagnosis can be overwhelming, but it’s important to know that there are many options for treatment. The CNSO doctors take the time to talk with each patient about potential treatments and success rates to come up with the best plan possible.
The board-certified neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics specialize in treating patients with brain and spine tumors. CNSO uses the most up-to-date medical technology which is available at select hospitals in Northern New Jersey. With centers in Bergen, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic Counties in New Jersey, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics offers multiple convenient locations to serve its patients. To learn more about radiation treatment options, contact us today.