NYU Langone doctors usually prescribe radiation therapy, which uses energy beams to destroy malignant cells, to treat people with malignant meningioma after they have had surgery. Radiation therapy can help destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent the meningioma from returning.
Radiation therapy may also be given to people with a benign meningioma who have had surgery but some tumor cells remain. People with atypical meningioma sometimes receive radiation therapy after surgery to destroy any remaining tumor cells and to prevent the growth from recurring.
If a person can’t have surgery because the tumor is too close to critical nerves or blood vessels or because of poor health, radiation therapy may be the only treatment used.
Radiation therapy is guided by computer software that incorporates images from MRI or CT scans. These images help doctors target tumors and avoid damage to healthy areas of the brain or spinal cord.
Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy
Doctors at NYU Langone may use intensity modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT, to manage large tumors in people with meningiomas of the brain, spinal cord, or skull base who can’t have surgery. This approach may also be used in people who have some remaining tumor cells after surgery.
During this treatment, doctors use computer-controlled beams of radiation in varying intensities. These beams are sculpted in three dimensions to conform closely to the size and shape of the meningioma. Targeting the radiation therapy to the tumor helps to avoid damaging healthy brain or spinal cord tissue, thus reducing the risk of side effects.
This type of therapy is usually delivered once a day, five days a week, for several weeks. Radiologists typically break the treatment into doses called fractions, which deliver small, but frequent, doses of radiation. This effectively treats the tumor and helps to reduce the risk of side effects.
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