Answers to Your Questions About Novalis Tx™ Radiosurgery Treatment

What is radiosurgery?

Radiosurgery is a noninvasive radiation therapy procedure that precisely delivers a large radiation dose to a tumor during one to five treatment sessions. The goal is to destroy the tumor without surgery and without harming healthy tissue. Radiosurgery can treat various types of tumors in the brain, spine, lung, liver and prostate, as well as some noncancerous disorders.

It also is called radiation surgery, stereotactic external beam radiation, stereotactic radiation therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery and stereotaxic radiosurgery.

What is radiotherapy?

Radiotherapy, or radiation therapy, uses high energy radiation from X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons and other sources to destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.

External beam radiation uses a device to deliver radiation to the body. Internal radiation therapy, or brachytherapy, inserts radioactive material into or near the tumor.

What's the advantage of shaped beam radiosurgery?

Novalis Tx sets the standard for shaping each treatment beam to the exact shape of the tumor. This avoids damaging normal tissue and delivers highly accurate doses where they're needed.

Traditional radiosurgery uses circular beams. Because most lesions are irregularly shaped, some systems combine several circular beams to cover the tumor. Other systems move the beam to "paint" the dose into the tumor. These time-consuming approaches can result in lower radiation to parts of the tumor and higher doses to healthy tissue.

Why is fast treatment important?

Treatment accuracy and patient comfort are two reasons short treatment times are important. Patients must lie as still as possible. A shorter treatment minimizes the chance for small movements that can affect the overall accuracy of the results.

Treatment times lasting an hour or more can make the entire process more stressful. Some physicians prescribe a sedative or even recommend meditation during the procedure.

A Novalis Tx treatment usually takes only 15–20 minutes. For increased accuracy, Novalis Tx automatically adjusts for any micro movements the patient makes during the treatment.

What is the difference between stereotactic radiosurgery and fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy?

Novalis Tx provides both stereotactic radiosurgery and fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy treatments. Our doctors recommend the technique most appropriate for each patient, depending on the size and location of the tumor.

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery is high dose radiation treatment applied in one session.
  • Fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy is high dose radiation treatment over several sessions. Patients receive the same total amount of radiation as radiosurgery, but the radiation is delivered in smaller amounts. This allows the healthy tissue to recover from the impact of the radiation before the next treatment session.

What should I expect at my treatment session?

Dress comfortably for your treatment. You don't need to bring special clothing or equipment to the hospital. Ask a relative or friend to come with you and drive you home. Because you may feel tired after treatment, driving is not recommended.

Novalis Tx allows a complete treatment session in one day. Your doctor will decide if you should receive a single dose treatment.

How will the radiation affect my condition?

Radiosurgery and radiotherapy use high energy radiation beams to destroy tumor cells. Visible results on a follow-up scan might include shrinkage of the tumor or cessation of further tumor growth.

Cell destruction and absorption of the cells within your system is a lengthy process. It can take up to six months before the effect of the treatment is visible.

Are there any side effects?

The Novalis Tx procedure is not painful. Immediately after treatment you may experience a headache or dizziness. Your doctor will discuss specific side effects that may occur depending on your overall treatment plan.

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Marilyn Rymer, MD

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Dementia

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