Radiation Medicine Treatment for Brain Cancer and for Spine Cancer at MedStar Georgetown
Each diagnosis and treatment of brain and spine is complex, with significant side effects related to the complexity of the brain and the importance of the spinal cord. For each patient at MedStar Georgetown there is team of brain and spine specialists -including radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, medical oncologists, pathologists, neuroradiologists, and other staff- who work together to develop an individualized, multidisciplinary treatment plan for a variety of benign and primary cancerous tumors. We also have significant expertise in treating patients with metastatic disease to the brain and spine.
Our goal is to provide the most effective treatment available while minimizing side effects that are of particular concern when treating malignant and benign tumors of the brain and spine. With research showing that patients treated at high-volume centers (in both radiation and surgery) having better outcomes, our Brain and Spine Center is part of the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, the only National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Washington DC region.
With the recent advances that have been made with regard to treatment of brain and spine tumors, we have access to the latest research and thinking regarding treatment of primary brain and spine tumors, as well as access to the latest clinical trials in this area. We commonly treat conditions including:
- Astrocytomas and gliomas including glioblastoma
- Pituitary adenoma
- Schwannoma and acoustic neuroma
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Arteriovenous malformation
- Childhood brain tumors
Unlike most radiation oncology centers, our multidisciplinary approach at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center-the only Comprehensive Cancer Center in the Washington DC region - features numerous non-physician specialists including nutritionists, speech and swallowing therapists, dedicated social workers and occupational therapists. With an extensive focus on the quality of life implications of treatment and survivorship issues, we also have access to resources at MedStar Georgetown and resources at the wider MedStar network including the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network.
Radiation Medicine will be part of the treatment plan for many patients with brain and spine conditions and cancers. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays called photons or protons, which can destroy cancer cells during high dose radiation treatments. This happens on the microscopic level. Patients do not feel the radiation during treatment. New technology allows physicians to treat the tumor with pinpoint accuracy, leaving surrounding healthy tissue virtually untouched and minimizing side effects.
Specific treatment plans might include:
- External Beam Radiation: The most frequently used treatment for brain and spine cancers, focuses radiation on the tumor from external machines. Radiation conforms to the shape of the tumor, treating the cancer while liming the exposure to normal tissue. External therapy is usually given over a six to eight-week period. Technologies include:
- Three-dimensional Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT)
- Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)
- Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT), also called RapidArc
- Stereotactic Radiosurgery (SRS) – Non-invasive treatment which precisely delivers targeted radiation in fewer high-doses than traditional therapy for functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain
- CyberKnife Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT) - This treatment method delivers large doses of highly focused radiation to the tumor site, sparing as much surrounding healthy tissue as possible. CyberKnife administers this treatment to tumors anywhere in the body, including the brain and spine, using a robotic arm. The concentrated, fewer large doses are typically more convenient, can cause fewer side effects, and may prove more effective than standard dose treatment options.
Make an Appointment
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a radiation oncologist, call our scheduling line:
Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center
Radiation Medicine is an integral part of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the only National Cancer Institute (NCI) designated comprehensive cancer centers in the Washington, D.C., area. Learn More.
Radiation Oncologists Treating Primary Brain Cancer and Primary Spine Cancer
- Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, Chair
- William Harter, MD, Vice Chair
- Brian T. Collins, MD
- Peter H. Ahn, MD
- Sean Collins, MD, PhD
- Keith R. Unger, MD
- Sonali Rudra, MD
The Department of Radiation Medicine conducts continuing clinical research that focuses on ways to more effectively and safely treat tumors with radiation while minimizing the amount of radiation critical organs and nearby healthy tissue receive.
Ask your physician to learn more about the research at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.