Ask the Expert: Stereotactic Radiosurgery

What is Stereotactic Radiosurgery and how does it work?

Stereotactic radiosurgery is a specialized radiation technique designed to deliver single, large doses of radiation to small areas within the brain. This treatment is usually performed using a special head frame (for positioning and immobilizing the person) combined with precision localization of the area to be treated by computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) followed by radiation delivery on a specialized radiation machine using many, small, highly focussed radiation beams. Treatments are usually delivered over a small number (1-5) of treatment sessions and higher doses per treatment are used compared to typical brain radiotherapy (typically 10-30 treatments). Gamma knife and Cyberknife are specialized radiation machines that are designed especially for stereotactic radiosurgery. Radiosurgery can also be performed on specially modified linear accelerators (radiation machines used to treat cancer) as well as modified Proton beam units.  All of these types of machines can deliver equally high quality radiosurgery.  Just as important as the type of Radiosurgery equipment is the availability of an experienced team of Neurosurgeons, Radiation Oncologists, Neurologic Radiologists, Physicists and Radiation Therapists who are available to advise patients on their options and coordinate and deliver the treatment.

Do we have this treatment available in Canada?

Specialized radiation machines like Cyberknife and Gamma Knife are available in some Cancer Centres and Hospitals in Canada. Linear accelerators that are able to deliver radiosurgery treatments are available in most Cancer Centres in Canada. Proton beam radiosurgery is not available in Canada.

What patients are eligible for this treatment?

Stereotactic radiosurgery seems to be most effective in treating people with small low-grade / non-malignant tumours in the brain (such as arteriovenous malformations, some meningiomas or acoustic neuromas) as well as selected people with cancer that has metastasized (spread) to the brain. Stereotactic radiosurgery is not appropriate for people with large tumours, tumours that are involving many different areas of the brain, tumours that are close to certain structures like the eyes or optic nerves or tumours that are diffuse (spreading within normal brain tissue).  For patients with these types of tumors, fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy given over longer periods of type (10-30 daily treatments over 2-6 weeks) can be a safer alternative than radiosurgery.

You can download this information as a Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada Information Sheet (pdf).
Thank you to Dr. Glenn Bauman, a Radiation Oncologist, for his time answering these important questions. Dr. Bauman is a member of our Professional Advisory Group.

Return to Information Sheets here.

Share This

Featured Story

Janet and Adam's Story: Beating the odds to share another birthday together

Turning the same age, on the same day as my husband, never gets old. They call us, Astro-Twins. According to many different sources, the odds were low that it would have lasted. His Auntie May discouraged it from the start saying, “You are both Sagittarians and should NOT be together.” My daughter Isobel did a quick calculation. Fun fact. In a group of 100 people there is a 2.8% chance of two people having the same birthday.

Learn more

Spotlight

Lawrence's Story: Be happy, live happy

Lawrence, a successful businessman, is not one to take a decline in memory lightly. Lawrence was in Winnipeg, at home on leave from his...

Learn more

Alicia's Story: You gotta laugh every day

It’s hard to capture an infectious giggle in words, but that’s exactly what you get when you speak to Alicia. Alicia is now 20 years...

Learn more

Upcoming Events

  • 10/Dec/2019: Virtual Support Group West: Virtual Support Group for Western Canada... Learn more >
  • 10/Dec/2019: Groupe de soutien virtuel: Un groupe de soutien virtuel pour personnes touchées par une tumeur... Learn more >
  • 10/Dec/2019: Kitchener and Waterloo Support Group: Meets at Christ Lutheran Church, 445 Anndale Rd., Waterloo, ON... Learn more >
  • 10/Dec/2019: Saskatoon Support Group: Meets at W.A. Edwards Family Centre, 333 4th Ave N., Saskatoon, SK ... Learn more >
View All Events >
Thank you to the donors whose contributions make this website and all programs, services and research possible.

Copyright © 2019 Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Charitable Registration #BN118816339RR0001