A brain or spinal tumor can develop when cells grow abnormally in the skull or the spinal cord. Tumors can either be benign, meaning non-cancerous, or malignant, meaning cancerous. Both benign and malignant tumors can affect the brain and spinal cord by putting too much pressure on delicate tissues.
Symptoms of Brain and Spinal Tumors
Brain tumors can cause problems ranging from headaches and nausea to balance, coordination and cognitive difficulties. Spinal tumors can cause pain, as well as sensory and motor difficulties. These tumors can also grow and spread, causing life-threatening complications.
Treating Brain and Spinal Tumors with CyberKnife® Radiation
CyberKnife is one of the most advanced methods of using radiation to destroy and kill cancerous cells in the brain and spinal cord. Using computers, cameras and imaging tools, CyberKnife identifies the exact location of a brain or spinal cord tumor. It uses this information to focus radiation beams precisely on the tumor—and not on any surrounding healthy tissue.
Less advanced techniques require patients to wear uncomfortable and invasive head frames during procedures, and affect non-cancerous tissue.
Benefits of CyberKnife Technology
The benefits of CyberKnife technology for brain and spinal tumors include:
- No need for patients to wear uncomfortable and invasive head frame during procedure
- Relatively safe
- Painless and non-invasive
- Highly accurate
- Gives patients an alternative to major surgery
- Allows patients to return home and to regular routine immediately afterwards
Preparing for CyberKnife Treatment
Our team of specialists at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital will prepare you for all parts of CyberKnife treatment.
Before you have CyberKnife treatment, you will need:
- Customized facemask – Instead of a head frame, your team will customize a soft, mesh mask for your face that you can see and breathe through easily during the procedure.
- Computed tomography (CT) scan – A CT scan creates a detailed picture of your tumor using computers and x-rays. The CT scan will give CyberKnife the information it needs to pinpoint the exact size, shape and location of your tumor.
During CyberKnife Treatment
During the treatment, all you will have to do is lie still on a table wearing your custom-fitted mask. A robotic arm will move around your body delivering radiation beams to your tumor. You should not feel any discomfort, and nothing will touch you directly.
After CyberKnife Treatment
Most brain and spinal cancer patients will receive five CyberKnife treatments over the course of a week. After treatment, you should be able to return to your normal daily activities. You may experience some fatigue following the procedure, but that is generally rare.