It is a radiation therapy which uses high energy rays to target precise areas and destroy cancer cells in the body. Radiotherapy is different from Chemotherapy as in the latter drugs are used to treat cancer. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy also differ on the aspect of parts of the body they affect. Radiotherapy is precise and only affects the tumor cells but chemotherapy drugs travel throughout the body which means they affect the normal, healthy cells too.
How Stereotactic radiotherapy works?
Radiotherapy is entirely non-surgical that is no incision or cut is made on patient’s body. 3D computer images of the tumor are taken before and during the procedure to guide high density radiation beams to the affected cells.This ensures minimum damage to the adjacent healthy tissues and if they are damaged, they easily repair themselves. Radiation targets the DNA of the damaged calls thus damaging their ability to reproduce which causes tumor to shrink.
Patient is made to lie on a table that slides into a machine that delivers radiation.Linear accelerator (LINAC) is the most commonly used machine for radiotherapy.
In stereotactic radiotherapy, patient’s head is kept still. This is achieved using a head frame and stereotactic mask.
Stereotactic radiotherapy treatment is usually divided into daily doses called fractions which vary from patient to patient.
What stereotactic radiotherapy is used for?
The procedure is used to treat Glioma (tumor that occurs in the brain and spinal cord) and other small lesions (ideally less than 3cm).When doctors use stereotactic radiosurgery to treat tumors in areas of the body other than the brain(e.g. pelvis, lung, bone, and spine), it’s sometimes called stereotactic body radiotherapy (SRBT) or stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR).
As radiation precisely targets tumor cells, adjacent cells are less exposed to rays and there are fewer side effects. Patient is less likely to have hair loss, feel sick, or have reddening of the skin. Some patients may experience some short term side effects, such as, headache, gastrointestinal upset, or fatigue.
Know your surgeons
This team that administers stereotactic radiotherapy includes neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, radiologists, radiation physicists, radiation therapists and nurses.