Gamma Knife® Surgery Treatment of Brain Metastases

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The terms metastatic brain tumor or brain metastasis refer to cancer that begins elsewhere in the body and spreads to the brain. Lung, breast, melanoma (skin cancer), colon and kidney cancers commonly spread to the brain.

As more effective cancer diagnostics and treatments are developed, and as larger numbers of cancer patients live longer, an increasing number of cancer patients are diagnosed with metastatic brain tumors. It is estimated that 20-40% of all cancer patients develop brain metastases, with 10-20% arising as a single tumor and 80+% arising as multiple tumors within the brain. The incidence begins to increase in ages 45–64 and is highest in people over 65.

With its extremely good tumor control rate (85%), few side effects and the ability to treat multiple targets effectively, Gamma Knife® surgery has become a preferred method in the care of metastatic disease. More than 100,000 patients have been treated with Gamma Knife® radiosurgery for brain metastases worldwide.

The Gamma Knife® focuses high doses of radiation beams more closely to the tumor than conventional external beam radiation in an attempt to avoid and protect normal surrounding brain tissue. This approach is most commonly used in situations where the tumor is small and in regions of the brain such as speech and motor localized areas. Radiosurgery can also be used to treat tumors that are not accessible with surgery, such as those deep within the brain. It may also be used for recurrences if whole-brain radiation was previously given, or as a local “boost” following whole-brain radiation.

With Gamma Knife® surgery, a patient can often:

  • Be treated in one session
  • Experience less damage to healthy cells and tissue
  • Enjoy faster recovery times
  • Gain better quality of life
  • Prolong life