Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) is an advanced type of radiation therapy. Despite its name, Stereotactic Radiosurgery is a non-surgical procedure as it requires no incision. SRS delivers precisely-targeted radiation at much higher doses than traditional radiation therapy, which can preserve surrounding healthy tissue.
SRS is ideal for treating areas that cannot be treated with traditional surgical methods, such as inoperable brain tumors.
Stereotactic Radiosurgery works similarly to other forms of radiation treatment. Radiation therapy does not actually remove the tumor, it causes the tumor to shrink. By damaging the cells of the tumor, it becomes unable to grow. Malignant and metastatic tumors may shrink more rapidly, even within a couple of months.
SRS treatment requires specific, 3D-imaging technology. This imaging is used to locate the tumor within the body and define the exact size and shape as well as guide the treatment plan and positioning of the patient for treatment. SRS treatment is delivered with a linear accelerator.
Even though SRS directs higher levels of radiation to the cancer, it causes less damage to surrounding healthy cells since it is delivered at a limited area of the body.
Various types of cancer are treated with stereotactic radiosurgery. The side effects differ according to the area being treated. Although most of these side effects are short term, some long-term issues are a possibility, particularly when SRS is used on the brain, head, and neck.
Patients with brain tumors or lesions often experience immediate side effects after stereotactic radiosurgery that include:
These side effects are usually mild and short-lived. In rare instances, however, more severe neurological deficits occur such as memory issues, seizures, speech, and reasoning issues. Some patients experience brain swelling. Sometimes, side effects appear months or even years after the SRS treatment ends.
SRS is often appropriate for the treatment of lung cancer as well as treatment for other head and neck cancers besides the brain, liver cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of the spine, lung cancer and abdominal cancer. Ongoing research is being done to determine what other cancers might benefit from the treatment. Side effects include:
Swelling, as well as long-term effects such as thickening and surface changes, may occur on any part of the body treated with radiation. However, most side effects are short term and will resolve on their own. It is important to understand that new issues can occur long after cancer treatment ends. Patients should contact their cancer care team if they notice problems in the treatment area or other general health problems. Overall, SRS produces fewer side effects than traditional radiation treatments.