Uses of Radiosurgery

Conditions for which radiosurgery can be used

More prevalent cancers such as lung cancer are quickly becoming the most common uses for stereosurgery.Radiation oncologists first developed stereotactic radiosurgery to treat brain tumors, which are often in very small, critically sensitive and important areas that surgeons cannot safely reach.  For the same reasons, radiation therapy teams have also applied radiosurgery to spinal cord tumors (including meningiomas).  These uses attest to the precision of radiosurgery.  But, while the technology is best known for its success in treating these central nervous system (CNS) cancers, its effectiveness is by no means restricted to these sites or types of cancer any longer.

Experience with the CNS uses, as well as improvements in the technology, have expanded the applications for radiosurgery.  Gated therapy, for example, now helps advanced radiosurgery systems to compensate for body motion due to breathing.  The team can perform a gated CT scan prior to treatment (showing target position during inspiration and expiration).  Uploading this information to the planning computer allows the system to adjust and pulse radiation beams to allow for respiratory movement.  Respiratory gating also allows the team to treat targets in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis; protects healthy tissue; and permits the patient to breath comfortably during treatment.

At advanced cancer centers such as Aria’s, experienced teams can and do take advantage of these and other advances in radiosurgery that permit them to apply the treatment to successfully destroy:

  • lung cancer (peripheral-type, non-small cell lung cancer and metastases of cancers to the lung);
  • cancers in the liver or pancreas;
  • metastatic kidney cancer (bone metastases);
  • vascular (blood vessel) abnormalities such as AVMs (arterio-venous malformations), which are abnormal collections of blood vessels where arteries shunt blood into veins (for which treatment causes the vessels to thicken and close off);
  • prostate cancer;
  • and breast cancer (for which the team can deliver partial breast irradiation).

Candidates for radiosurgery are often patients whose condition cannot be treated by a surgical operation (although, if a lesion returns that has been surgically removed and it is amenable to radiosurgery, a patient may undergo the treatment).  They may also be patients who cannot undergo conventional radiation therapy.  However, some patients may receive conventional radiation therapy to a targeted region and then receive radiosurgery as a boosting or additional treatment.  Thus, radiosurgery can serve as adjunct to conventional radiation or can serve as a sole treatment.

Some patients will undergo radiosurgery with the intent of achieving a definitive cure for their condition.  Others will receive it as palliative treatment, that is, treatment meant to diminish cancer tissue in order to slow its advance and reduce symptoms.

The radiation oncology team’s decision about if and how it can use radiosurgery for an individual is highly specific to each patient’s case, relating to many factors including:

  • type, size, and location of abnormality;
  • potential to combine radiosurgery with other treatments;
  • and the patient’s overall health and other conditions.
See this recent Aria advertisement for radiosurgery