Overview

While both chemotherapy and surgery are utilised in cancer treatment, they also have side effects which can sometimes be difficult for a patient’s weakened body to handle. Stereotactic Radiosurgery is a non-surgical type of radiotherapy that delivers high doses of radiation with extreme precision to treat small, localised tumours in the brain. It aims to destroy the tumour and achieve permanent local control, and is usually done within a single outpatient treatment session. As no surgery is involved in Stereotactic Radiosurgery, it has various benefits such as avoiding the risks of haemorrhage, infection, and anaesthesia that come from surgery.  

Furthermore, there is minimal interruption of other treatments, such as chemotherapy. The results for Stereotactic Radiosurgery for brain metastases appear to be equivalent to the results for surgery in removing the tumour. This method is a considerably milder approach to eradicating tumours in a patient’s body, minimising pain and distress in cancer patients across their treatments.

 

How Does Stereotactic Radiosurgery Work?

Stereotactic Radiosurgery works by concentrating a large number of tiny radiation beams on the part of the body where the tumour is located. These beams have very minimal effect on the tissue it goes through, but the area where all the radiation beams intersect receives a focused dose of radiation. These radiation beams essentially serve as the scalpel for the operation, which removes the need for traditional surgery.

Tumours shrink and blood vessels close off over time as a result of the high dosage of radiation delivered to the targeted area, depriving the tumour of its blood supply. Because Stereotactic Radiosurgery is so precise, it does very little damage to the healthy tissues around it. When compared to other types of traditional surgery for removing cancer cells, radiosurgery has a lower risk of adverse effects in the majority of situations.

There are several modalities of Stereotactic Radiosurgery, such as Framed SRS (e.g Gamma Knife) or Frameless SRS (e.g linac-based cyberknife). Framed SRS usually involves using screws to secure the headframe onto the patient as an invasive procedure, while Frameless SRS uses a thermoplastic mask to secure the head and is non-invasive.

 

Possible Side Effects of Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Because Stereotactic Radiosurgery does not require surgical operations, it is considered to be safer than standard surgery. Anaesthesia, bleeding, and infection are all possible consequences in traditional surgery that will be avoided when stereotactic radiosurgery is used. Complications or adverse effects that occur early on are often just transitory. 

For the first few weeks after Stereotactic Radiosurgery, you may feel tired and fatigued. Headaches, nausea, and vomiting can occur as a result of swelling near the targeted area. Anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed by your doctor to prevent or treat symptoms if they arise. Your scalp may also become red, itchy, or painful. Some patients may experience slight hair loss for a short period, but frequently regrow it after some time.

Other Treatments Available

  • 3D Conformal External Beam Radiotherapy is one of the most common forms of external beam radiation therapy. It effectively targets cancer tumours while sparing healthy surrounding tissues.

  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy [IMRT] is high precision radiation therapy that delivers high dose, modulated radiation beams to cancerous tumours, while limiting impact on healthy surrounding tissue.

  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy [VMAT] involves the use of external radiation therapy beams being directed in a series of arcs or angles to allow for greater access to tumour. VMAT allows more difficult tumours, such as the ones wrapped around other important structures, to be targeted precisely.

"I guarantee my very best expertise delivered with compassion and dignity as we journey TOGETHER to BEAT this dreaded illness."

- Dr Johann Tang

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