Radiation therapy for brain cancer

We offer the latest in radiation therapy treatment for brain cancer to ensure you receive the best possible care.

Radiation therapy treatment for brain cancer

Radiation oncologists use radiation for brain cancer to destroy cancer cells, reduce their growth or to relieve symptoms of the cancer. Radiation therapy treatment is often given after surgery or alongside other treatments.

There are many different radiation therapy techniques that may be suitable for your brain cancer. The treatment you receive will depend on the size and stage of your cancer and your general health.

External beam radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) uses one or more beams to deliver high energy x-rays from outside the body to the cancerous area. Treatment is often given once a day, every day for a set number of weeks.1

Types of EBRT which can be used for the treatment of brain cancer include:

  • Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) – a high precision type of radiation therapy that uses computer controlled linear accelerators to deliver high dose radiation to cancerous tumours in the brain
  • Volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) – a novel radiation therapy technique that delivers the radiation dose continuously as the treatment machine rotates. This technique accurately shapes the radiation dose to the tumour while minimising the dose to surrounding organs. VMAT can be used to treat large areas of the body with uneven boundaries and tumours located close to vital organs without fear of damage to these organs by high doses of radiation

Image guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is used to ensure EBRT is delivered as accurately as possible. This involves advanced imaging equipment and computer software such as MRI, CT and x-ray to increase the radiation therapists ability to precisely target a tumour with radiation beams.

Stereotactic radiation therapy

Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a specific type of targeted radiation therapy that can be used to treat small benign or malignant (cancerous) brain tumours and those tumours that can’t be treated with surgery or that have metastasised (tumours that have spread to the brain from other areas of the body).1

It involves a special type of high-dose radiation therapy that targets affected areas in the brain whilst avoiding healthy brain tissue.1 SRS is usually delivered in one to five treatments.

Stereotactic radiation therapy (SRT) is an advanced technique used to treat small malignant and benign tumours with well-defined edges in the brain. SRT uses similar precision to SRS, but can also be used for larger lesions (tumours) and is usually delivered over a longer treatment course.

It is most commonly used to treat secondary tumours in the brain. Stereotactic radiation therapy is also used to treat some benign (non-cancerous) tumours such as meningiomas, pituitary adenomas and acoustic neuromas as well as some blood vessel conditions such as arteriovenous malformations.

Stereotactic radiation therapy for the brain involves the making of a customised mask. This is used during treatment to ensure the patient’s head does not move, allowing the radiation therapy machine to precisely target the tumour.

Compared to traditional radiation therapy for metastatic disease to the brain, which involves treating the entire brain, stereotactic radiation therapy only targets the individual tumours with high doses of radiation. This provides less radiation to healthy brain tissue, reducing the risk of adverse intellectual function and the impact of side effects (e.g. hair loss and headaches), thus providing improved quality of life for patients.

At Icon Cancer Centre we use state-of-the-art technologies which can deliver treatment to multiple brain tumours at one time. This reduces the need to treat multiple tumours separately, resulting in a much shorter treatment time for patients. Listed below are two examples of software used to help deliver this treatment. Other technologies may be used to treat multiple tumours, depending on the location of your treatment centre, but the software all work to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients.

Varian HyperArc

HyperArc is the latest technological advancement from Varian Medical Systems, and accurately targets multiple tumours while ensuring limited doses of radiation to surrounding healthy brain tissue. For more information on HyperArc, click here.

HyperArc technology is available at Icon Canberra Icon GreenslopesIcon Gold Coast Private and Icon Maroochydore.

BrainLab Elements

BrainLab Elements is an automatic brain metastases planning system. It brings together planning solutions to benefit clinicians and patients. It optimises and streamlines the planning processes based on each individual case allowing for high quality treatment plans for patients. It allows your care team to create the best possible plan to target tumours with precise accuracy.

BrainLab Elements is used at Icon Richmond and Icon Mulgrave.


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Brain cancer treatment. (2018). Cancer Council. Retrieved on 20th February 2019 from https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/brain-cancer/treatment/
  2. Radiation therapy for brain cancer (2018). Cancer Council. Retrieved on 20th February 2019 from https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/brain-cancer/treatment/radiotherapy/

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