Radiation Therapy for Brain Metastases

Radiation Therapy for Brain Metastases

Radiation oncologist Kathryn Beal with a patient.

Radiation oncologist Kathryn Beal performs a neurological exam.

Radiation therapy is an important treatment for brain cancer. MSK experts use very advanced methods to deliver exact doses of radiation directly to brain tumors. This causes less harm to nearby healthy tissues. 

If radiation therapy is right for you, we offer this treatment at MSK locations in Manhattan, New Jersey, Westchester, and on Long Island. 


Brachytherapy is used for some types of brain metastases that need surgery, and for some primary brain tumors. First, your surgeon removes the tumor. Next, they put tiny radioactive implants in that same area. These implants are radioactive material sealed inside a seed.  

The advantage of brachytherapy is that it kills cancer cells with less harm to nearby healthy tissue. We place the radiation source directly over the brain tumor. The radiation does not have to travel through healthy brain tissue to reach the tumor. The area next to the seeds gets a high amount of radiation. Nearby tissue gets a lower dose.  

Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

VIDEO | 01:49

A Closer Look at Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy

MSK neurosurgeon Nelson Moss explains how LITT, a minimally invasive technique, can be used to destroy brain tumors with pinpoint precision.
Video Details

We make a very tiny skin incision (cut) so that recovery is quicker. Patients almost always go home the next day. Using MRI technology, we guide a very thin laser probe right into the brain tumor. Its laser energy superheats the brain tumor and kills it. 

MSK Precise™

MSK Precise™ is a type of radiation therapy called stereotactic radiotherapy. It uses a precise, high-dose form of radiation therapy. MSK Precise™ is different from traditional radiation therapy. Standard radiation therapy usually is given every day for several weeks, in low doses. MSK Precise™ uses larger doses of radiation over a shorter period of time, with fewer treatment sessions. 

MSK Precise™ uses an advanced computer system to deliver very accurate doses of radiation. During treatment, it uses different kinds of imaging, such as motion monitoring. These pictures let doctors see the tumor and normal tissues very clearly. They can precisely target only the cancer and keep the radiation to within 1 millimeter of the tumor. This method works very well and is less toxic (poisonous). It spares normal, healthy brain tissue. 

MSK Precise™ is best for people who have: 

  • A small number of brain metastases.
  • Brain tumors we cannot reach through surgery.
  • Cancer that is too advanced for surgery.
  • Trouble with anesthesia (medication to make you sleep during a procedure).  

Other Radiation Therapy Approaches

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy

This technique (IMRT) delivers high doses of radiation to the brain tumor while protecting your healthy brain tissue. It uses advanced software and 3-D CT scans to mold radiation doses to the shape of the tumor.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy

Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) combines advanced imaging with IMRT. Our specialists incorporate the imaging in each IGRT session to ensure the precise delivery of each radiation dose.

Whole-Brain Radiation Therapy

Whole-brain radiation therapy is usually the best treatment if you have many tumors throughout your brain. This radiation therapy takes place over several weeks so there are fewer side effects. 

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