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Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumors

Radiation therapy is the treatment of tumors using X-rays and other forms of radiation (light energy) to destroy cancer cells or prevent the tumor from growing. It is also called radiotherapy.

Radiation therapy passes through the body, treating cancers in areas of the brain that are difficult to reach through surgery. It is painless.

Many patients with brain tumors will receive radiation therapy, which may:

  • Completely eliminate tumors in some patients
  • Increase survival for most patients

Uses of radiation therapy in treating brain tumors:

Radiation therapy is usually administered after surgery, to destroy any remaining cancer cells. It is also the primary treatment for:

  • Many patients with metastatic brain tumors
  • Certain types of brain tumors
  • Patients who are not surgical candidates due to the location of the tumor or other medical issues

Radiation therapy might also be administered to relieve symptoms (called palliative radiation).

Types of radiation therapy to treat brain tumors:

The Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Brain Tumor Center uses advanced medical technology to deliver:

We also offer the GliaSite Radiation Therapy System for metastatic brain tumors and recurrent brain tumors.

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Ways Johns Hopkins improves the results of radiation therapy:

Radiation oncologists and other professionals in the radiation oncology program work together to carefully plan and deliver radiation therapy. This ensures that the patient receives effective treatment with minimum damage to healthy brain tissue.

Treatment planning includes simulation to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor using X-rays or other images. The radiation oncologist uses these images to create a three-dimensional picture of the patient’s brain. For some types of radiation therapy, a custom-fitted "mask" is created to increase the precision of the treatment.

The radiation oncologist then designs the patient’s treatment, determining the most appropriate radiation dose (the level of radiation energy to be used) and delivery method. A dosimetrist and/or a medical physicist will calculate the dose, the angle of the treatment beam and the amount of time for each beam. (Dosimetrists and medical physicists specialize in using radiation therapy equipment and calculating and measuring radiation.) The radiation oncologist reviews the calculations and then the treatments are scheduled.

Learn more about the Johns Hopkins radiation oncology service.

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For more information, contact the Johns Hopkins Comprehensive Brain Tumor Center at 410-955-6406.


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