If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, then you will need to speak with a neurologist as well as an oncologist so a treatment plan can be arranged for you. Part of this plan may include the completion of gamma knife radiation therapy. This type of therapy is often completed instead of brain surgery, and it can be quite beneficial. To understand why gamma knife therapy should be considered over brain surgery, keep reading.
Complications Are Reduced
Brain tumors are often located in areas where their removal can cause brain damage. Cortical mapping is often needed to locate tumors and find out where they sit in relation to memory, speech, and sense centers. Once this information is gathered, the brain surgeon will try to avoid damaging important areas of the brain that are needed for information processing. However, this can be incredibly difficult, especially if the tumor is located in the frontal lobe or near the brain stem. These areas of the brain are vital, and surgical removal can leave you with personality changes or without the ability to breathe on your own. If the risks associated with surgery are too high, then the surgeon may deem the tumor inoperable.
Brain damage is not the only possible complication of brain surgery. Since the surgery is a major operation, you will need to undergo a general anesthetic. General anesthesia is typically safe. However, if you have diabetes, sleep apnea, or a seizure condition or if you smoke, then complications are more likely. These can include heart attack, stroke, and respiratory distress.
Surgery is not required if gamma knife radiation is performed. This type of treatment involves exposing the brain tumor to direct and pinpointed radiation. An MRI or CT scan will be completed first to locate the tumor. With this information, your physician will input data into a computer to program the gamma knife machine. Your head will be locked into a frame so you are unable to move. You will be asked to lie on a couch or a table that moves into the gamma knife machine, and once the machine is programmed, the therapy will start. Radiation beams will then be directed towards the brain tumor. This requires no anesthesia and no cutting.
Tumors Are Treated Quickly
If you have a brain tumor, then it is extremely important to keep the formation from growing. When a brain tumor grows, it destroys brain tissue. This damage can cause memory, speech, and concentration issues in a relatively quick manner. To prevent brain damage, the surgeon will typically leave a small amount of the tumor behind. The leftover tumor will then need to be treated with radiation and chemotherapy. During this entire process, the tumor can expand and affect healthy brain tissues.
Gamma knife radiation, on the other hand, can be scheduled and completed quickly. Once the tumor has been exposed to the radiation, the DNA within the tumor will be changed. This change stops the tumor from growing or expanding, and it will no longer be able to thrive once this happens. While the tumor will be left in the brain, it will remain stable. Over time, you will see a reduction in symptoms associated with the brain tumor. This typically happens when the brain utilizes available brain matter to build new connections. This will help you to regain speech, reasoning, and sense information. While this can happen after brain surgery as well, it can take much longer for your brain to heal itself if there is extensive tissue damage. Gamma knife radiation prevents this from happening, so a full and fast recovery is more likely.
To learn more about gamma knife therapy, contact a physician from a facility like Billings Clinic.