Cancer treatments & modern technology

Treatment options when cancer spreads to the brain
In some people diagnosed with cancer, there is the unfortunate potential for the cancer to spread to the brain.  Although any type of cancer has the ability to spread to the brain, brain metastases tend to arise from lung cancer, breast cancer and melanoma.
Treatment for brain metastases includes surgery, radiation therapy to the whole brain, and a relatively new option called stereotactic radiosurgery.  The use of chemotherapy is controversial and not routinely used for most brain metastases due to the difficulty in getting these drugs to enter the brain.  Trials of new drugs that cross into the brain, or use the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer, are ongoing.  Surgery and radiation therapy therefore remain the current standard treatment options.
The choice of treatment depends on multiple factors including the extent of the disease, the person’s age and how well they are functioning.
What is stereotactic radiosurgery?
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is an alternative to invasive surgery.  It is most suited to people who are unable to undergo surgery, or for tumours and abnormalities that are hard to reach or located close to vital organs.  It can also be used to treat some non-cancerous lesions such as arteriovenous malformations and vestibular schwannomas.
SRS treatment uses image-guided radiation therapy.  Images of the location of the tumour immediately before, and sometimes during  radiation delivery, improve the precision of the radiation beams. The beams are able to target the tumour from multiple angles and spare nearby normal tissue.
Benefits of stereotactic radiosurgery
Treatment with SRS is shorter than for other methods.  Treatment is delivered as a single high-dose, or two to five medium-doses of radiation.  Side-effects are generally less than with other options. SRS has also been shown to enhance survival in people with a single brain metastasis.
The key is to ensure that people with newly diagnosed brain metastases are referred to a radiation oncologist for an opinion.
For rapid access to world-class cancer care:
Phone: 1300 977 062
Private health insurance is not required for consultation or treatment with radiation therapy.


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