how many times can you get t he gamma knife procedure

wondering how many times the docs will perform the gamma knife? do they just keep zapping them as they appear or do they go away forever?

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The surgical strike of this type of radiation to the tumor kills its DNA. Without being able to repair that DNA, the tumor becomes necrotic (dead) and eventually shrinks away inside the brain. The tumor would not grow anymore. The tumor shrinks according to the way it grew. A fast growing tumor will shrink quickly. A slow growing tumor will shrink more slowly. However, left-over necrotic tissue has a mind of its own.

Whole brain radiation is once and done and cannot be used again. Focal treatment with GammaKnife allows retreatment of local and new recurrences.

GammaKnife is a Cobalt-60 based (photon) machine used in a handful of centers in the United States. In addition to brain tumors, it treats body cancers in a fractionated manner. The machines are ideal for smaller tumors, less than 3.5cm. My wife had Gamma-Knife. Her lesions were 4, 5, and 7mm. Very, very small lesions. It uses gamma rays.

Cyberknife is a linear accelerator based radiosurgery machine. It has the ability to easily treat large tumor volumes, over 3.5cm, by treating over several sessions. When treating over time, it is called fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy and not stereotactic radiosurgery (which is a one-session treatment). They too can be used throughout the body, the head and neck, as well as the brain. It uses alpha rays.

The third radiosurgery machine is the particle/proton beam machine. In addition to brain tumors, it treats body cancers in a fractionated manner. Due to the cost of the particle beam facility (>100 million), many of the costs are funded by endowments and public research centers.

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I have a friend who just completed her 3rd gamma knife over the past 20 months - total of 7 tumors. I know another woman who has had 14 brain tumors, 2 surgically removed and 12 via gamma knife on various occassions (very unusual from what I hear, but she seems fine and is a young mother who will do anything to stick around for her kids!) I don't know if these are recurrent or new. The technonolgy changes rapidly. I plan to do anything I can to avoid whole brain radiation and just keep getting them zapped as they crop up. But you need to catch them when they are small - so I've been pushing to have MRIs every 3 months, rather than wait 6 months in between.

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I was told they don't use gammaknife on extended small cell lung cancer. Has anyone heard otherwise?



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yes they do. My hubby diag in July of 06. 3 1/2 years later found in adrenal gland and in brain which makes it extensive. received one gamma knife in Dec and is currently in cemo for the adrenal gland. Just not sure how many they can zap? Go back if Feb for brain scan.

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hope and wishes,

Hubby is lucky then. I was diagnosed with extended small cell lung cancer in July 2008 also in a lymph node and adrenal gland and he said the gamma knife was not an option.


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SCLC is caused by an uncontolled growth of cells beginning on the surface of the lung's breathing tubes (called bronchi) and tends to spread widely through the body (growth rate of cancer cells is much faster than that of normal cells).

This is important because it means that surgery is rarely used as a treatment option. However, GammaKnife is a surgical strike to the tumor by killing its DNA. And this is what hubby received. Interesting!

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for SCLC. Most SCLC patients can only be treated with chemotherapy because most are undetected until the disease is at an advanced stage when it is too late for surgery (or perhaps GammaKnife).

Chemotherapy has a cytostatic period, called the dormant period. Perhaps post-chemo surgery would be more beneficial? If metastasis can be controlled by tumor dormancy therapy, surgery could be less invasive.

Although SCLC is often responsive to first-line treatments, patients may relapse. While SCLC is intrinsically sensitive to chemotherapy, the prevalence of drug resistance to common chemotherapy drugs in NSCLC is alarmingly high (radiation treatment is more effective).

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