Radiation, like chemotherapy, involves risks and uncertainties. A
concentrated dose of radiation is directed to a localized, calculated area of
the brain in the vicinity of the resection. The radiation "burns off" the area
around where the brain tumor was removed, to help prevent any further spread of
the tumor. The best result is necrotic tissue (dead tissue), which sometimes can
be misinterpreted on an MRI as “hot spots.”
Radiation can cause many different side effects such as nausea, hair loss,
weight loss or gain, fatigue or headaches. Since radiation can cause swelling in
the brain, the steroid drug dexamethasone is sometimes used to offset the side
effects. However, dexamethasone has its own side effects as well. They are
weight gain, increase of appetite, and immune system suppression from long term
use. Dexamethasone can also give the “moon face” look and can also lead to
There are various types of radiation such as Stereotactic, Peacock, and Directed
Beam. Your doctor will explain each of these treatments and help you decide the
best approach. Normally radiation is used after a craniotomy to remove any
leftover cells at the tumor site that were not removed during the surgery.
The following links may give you more information.
Tumor Foundation: A good overview and discussion of radiation treatment,
including stereotactic irradiation and
This site from the makers of the Gamma Knife
offers an easy to read overview on the radiation treatment process (or
Radiotherapy) and an overview of Gamma Knife surgery, which involves a
concentrated beam of radiation. At this site, click on the Patient navigation
button at the left, then Treatment Process.
NYU School of Medicine
- Department of Radiation Oncology - A Preview of Treatment This site gives
an overview of the entire process of treating brain tumor patients with
radiation. Mike was treated here.