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SIGNS OF TREATING EXTERNAL BEAM NEWERBRAIN TUMORS BRAIN TUMORS RADIOTHERAPY TECHNIQUESNo blood test or other screening exam can If doctors determine that you have a tumor, External beam radiotherapy involves a Doctors are constantly exploring newerdetect brain tumors, but there are often the treatment options and prognosis are series of daily outpatient treatments over and better ways to treat primary brainsome outward signs. While tumors in differ- based on the following factors: several weeks to accurately deliver radia- tumors.ent parts of the central nervous system tion to the brain. Radiation is often givendisrupt different functions, some symptoms Tumor type. after surgery, and sometimes it is used Drugs that make tumor cells more sensitive to radia-include: Location and size of tumor. instead of surgery. tion are called radiosensitizers. Combining radiation with radiosensitizers may allow doctors to kill more Headaches. Tumor grade (how abnormal the cells are). 3-dimensional conformal radiotherapy tumor cells. Nausea/vomiting. Your age, medical history and general health. or 3D-CRT combines multiple radiation treatment Chemotherapy is used with radiation to treat some fields to deliver precise doses of radiation to the brain tumors. Your doctor may recommend that you Seizures. brain. Tailoring each of the radiation beams to the consult with a medical oncologist (chemotherapy Weakness or numbness on one side of the body. patients tumor allows coverage of the brain tumor doctor) before starting radiation. UNDERSTANDING while keeping radiation away from nearby organs, Changes in vision, hearing or sensation. RADIATION THERAPY such as the eyes. Difficulty with speech. Radiation therapy, sometimes called radio- Intensity modulated radiation therapy or Lack of coordination. therapy, is the careful use of radiation to IMRT is the most recent advance in the delivery of safely and effectively treat many different POTENTIAL A change in mood or personality. kinds of tumors. radiation. IMRT differs from 3D-CRT by modifying the SIDE EFFECTS Memory loss. intensity of the radiation within each of the radiation beams. The effects of brain radiation can vary Doctors called radiation oncologists use radiation thera- Stereotactic radiotherapy, sometimes called depending on your tumor and the tech- py to try to kill tumors, to control tumor growth or to radiosurgery, is a type of external beam radiation thera- nique used to treat it. relieve symptoms.DIAGNOSING py that pinpoints high doses directly on the tumor, in Before treatment, your radiation oncologist will dis-BRAIN TUMORS Radiation therapy works within tumor cells by damag- some cases in only one treatment. cuss any side effects — however rare — you may ing their ability to multiply. When these cells die, theIf you suffer from any of the initial signs of body naturally eliminates them. Proton therapy is given much the same way as experience.a brain tumor, your doctor will likely con- external beam therapy, but it uses proton particles Possible side effects can include fatigue, change induct some or all of the following tests: Healthy cells near the tumor may be affected by radia- rather than X-rays to kill brain tumor cells. This treat- appetite, headaches, visual changes, hair loss, skin tion, but they are able to repair themselves in a way ment is only available in a few regions of the country. tumor cells cannot. irritation, nausea, vomiting and/or unsteadiness. A physical exam to determine your overall health. Some side effects can be treated with steroids or A neurologic exam to evaluate brain and spinal cord INTERNAL other medications. Talk to your doctor about any function. RADIATION THERAPY problems you experience. Imaging studies, such as CT, MRI or PET scans, to look for RADIATION THERAPY OPTIONS FOR BRAIN TUMORS Internal radiation therapy or brachythera- signs of a brain tumor. py works by placing radioactive sources If studies or scans indicate you might have a brain tumor, People with brain tumors should discuss in or just next to a tumor. some tissue may be taken from the tumor to make an treatment options with several cancer spe- exact diagnosis. This test is called a biopsy. cialists, including a radiation oncologist. A During brachytherapy, a tube or balloon called a radiation oncologist is a doctor who will catheter will be inserted into the brain. The radiation A spinal tap may also be performed to look for tumor help you understand the types of radiation will then be carried to the tumor using this catheter. cells. During this test, a needle is placed in the lower back therapy available to treat your tumor. to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid is then Conventional radiation therapy treatment The radioactive source will then be left in place from examined to see if tumor cells are present. options for brain tumors include: several hours to several days to kill the tumor cells. In some cases, the radiation is permanently placed External beam radiation therapy. directly into the tumor or the area where the tumor Brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy. was before surgery.