Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), is also called as radioneurosurgery, this involves the delivery of a high dose of focused radiation therapy to a small, well-defined area in the brain or any other part of the head. This treatment is done in one or a few treatment sessions. This procedure does not involve any surgical cuts and it is a non-invasive treatment for some patients with tumors or cancers of the brain and head. The procedure is performed under local sedation with patients fitted with a face mask to guide the target area.
The Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is used to treat patients with secondary cancers that have moved to the brain (brain metastasis), slow-growing benign tumors (such as acoustic neuromas), and also this is sometimes performed to re-treat an area that has previously had radiation therapy (head and neck cancers or primary brain cancers). Apart from this, SRS is also used to treat some non-cancer or tumor conditions such as arteriovenous malformations (abnormal connection of veins and arteries) and complex cases of trigeminal neuralgia.
A large team of experts is involved in the planning and delivering of SRS including specialist radiation oncologists, radiation therapists, medical physicists, and nurses. Patients are involved in the discussion in a multi-disciplinary meeting that usually done with radiation oncologists, surgeons, medical oncologists, neurologists and radiologists before treatment.
Many factors are carefully considered before starting the treatment to the patient. The overall condition of the patient, current symptoms, and the areas involved with cancer are some of the factors that are looked before treatment.
There are many methods of giving SRS, for example, Linear Accelerator-Based, GammaKnife, Cyberknife, and Tomotherapy. But all these systems have similar key features. All these systems deliver precise and safe radiation therapy. The procedure has high accuracy to minimize the dose to normal
structures surrounding the tumor.
Before starting the treatment a head frame or mask is used to minimize any movement, ensuring that the patient is comfortable throughout the treatment. X-rays are also taken to ensure that the patient is positioned accurately with measurements taken before the treatment is given. The treatment duration could be around 30 minutes to 1 hour based on the type of SRS and number of areas SRS is given, and the set-up time included in this.
Benefits with SRS:
The main benefit of SRS is its ability to treat the tumors that are located in a difficult area to reach. This procedure is also beneficial for people who are not candidates for open neurosurgery because of their age, medical condition or personal interest.
The delivery of SRS is completely pain-free. It is usually well tolerated by patients.
For some cases, such as for a person who has large tumors, the treatment is divided over several days. This is known as Stereotactic radiotherapy (SRT).
Along with the benefits of the treatment, there could be a few side-effects.
The potential side-effects of treatment usually depend upon the area being treated. These issues will be discussed with the patient by the treating radiation oncologist.
Some people may get a few side-effects post-treatment that include- tiredness, mild nausea or headache. Most of these are temporary and mild in nature. Some rare side-effects may occur months or years after treatment but these are not common. The SRS has a meticulous planning and treatment process that minimizes these side-effects.
The exact result of the treatment cannot be summarized easily because every condition is being treated differently. Your radiation oncologist will be able to give you many more details about this and all aspects of the SRS process before a final decision is made.