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Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery uses a large dose of radiation to destroy tumor tissue. The procedure does not involve actual surgery. One of the advantages of stereotactic radiosurgery as a cancer treatment is that most nearby tissues are not damaged by this procedure.

Surgeons at Penn Medicine have been performing laser surgery to destroy cancer cells for more than 20 years.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is performed using:

  • Linear accelerator
  • Gamma Knife®

Physicians at Penn Medicine are using stereotactic radiosurgery to treat:

In stereotactic radiosurgery for the brain, a patient's head is placed in a special frame, which is attached to the patient' skull. The frame is used to aim high-dose radiation beams directly at the tumor inside the patient's head. The dose and area receiving the radiation are coordinated very precisely.

Treatment Sessions

Radiation therapy offers patients a noninvasive cancer treatment option. There's no pain during the procedure (though some patients with physical limitations may experience some discomfort when positioned), very little noise, and no time spent inside small, confining spaces, as with some technology.

At the start of each session, a radiation therapist will spend 5 to 15 minutes positioning the patient for treatment and setting up the equipment as instructed by the radiation oncologist. X-rays are taken to insure that the patient is in the proper treatment position. Once the patient is in position, the therapist will enter the control room next door. From here, the patient is monitored throughout the treatment on a television screen and via voice communication. Should the patient have any concerns, or feel sick or uncomfortable, this may be expressed to the radiation therapist using the microphone located in the treatment room.

Depending upon the individual patient's circumstances, a course of radiation therapy usually runs five days a week for several weeks. Generally, the patient is at Penn Radiation Oncology for about an hour each day with the actual radiation therapy session lasting 15 to 30 minutes.

Patients are seen at least once a week by a Penn radiation oncologist. During this appointment, the radiation oncologist evaluates a patient's response to treatment. As needed, the amount of radiation administered to the patient is altered based upon the radiation oncologist's observations. Blood work and X-rays may also be ordered to see how a patient's body is responding to treatment. If a patient's tumor shrinks significantly, another simulation may be required. This allows adjustments to be made to the treatment so that the rest of the tumor is destroyed while sparing even more normal tissue.