Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors

Radiation therapy works by shrinking or killing the cancerous cells that make up a brain tumor. Your treatment team may recommend radiation therapy as a primary treatment for your tumor, or suggest it be combined with surgery, chemotherapy, or both. Radiation is also used for tumors that come back after initial treatment.

State-of-the-art technology — linear accelerators, advanced imaging techniques, high-speed computer systems — is helping us care for our brain tumor patients with more powerful and precise doses of radiation than ever before. 

Pictured: Alice Ho
Answers to Common Questions about Radiation Safety
Memorial Sloan Kettering Radiation Safety Officer Jean St. Germain answers common questions about the safety of adults undergoing radiation treatment for cancer.
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Types of Radiation Therapy

The type of radiation we recommend for you depends on several factors, including the tumor’s type, size, and location. Our radiation experts use three types of external radiation therapy for primary brain tumors.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

Intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, uses sophisticated software and 3-D images from CT scans to focus high doses of radiation directly on your tumor. These pencil-thin beams vary in intensity and conform to the specific shape and size of the tumor, reducing exposure to healthy tissue in your brain and also lessening your chance for side effects.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT)

With image-guided radiation therapy, or IGRT, we use real-time imaging with a CT scan or x-rays during radiation therapy to help ensure an ideal setup and that you don’t move at all during treatment. Our goal is to deliver radiation with utmost accuracy.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery, or SRS, can treat small tumors with one high dose of radiation. For most people this approach is very effective and they tolerate it well. A frame stabilizes your head during treatment. Specialized doctors and physicists work together to ensure a safe and highly accurate delivery of radiation.