Radiation oncology applies advanced radiation technologies in the treatment of cancer by shrinking tumors and killing cancer cells. Using a highly comprehensive multidisciplinary approach, the innovative Radiation Oncology and Stereotactic Radiosurgery Program at Mischer Neuroscience Institute uses radiation therapy as a primary treatment method for both benign and malignant brain tumors, and in conjunction with chemotherapy and surgical treatments of cancer.
The radiation oncologists affiliated with Mischer Neuroscience Institute, Director of Radiation Oncology and Stereotactic Radiosurgery Angel I. Blanco, MD, and Shariq Khwaja, MD, PhD and Mark Amsbaugh, MD, specialize in the skilled treatment of cancers using radiation.
Drs. Blanco, Amsbaugh and Khwaja consult and work closely with referring physicians and Mischer Neuroscience Institute’s team of affiliated world-class specialists to develop individualized treatment plans for each patient. This affiliated multidisciplinary team includes neuro-oncologists, neuroradiologists, neuropathologists, oncologists, neurologists and interventional pain management physicians who meet weekly to discuss each patient’s plan of care and progress.
All aspects of a patient’s diagnosis, treatment and prospective path to recovery are continuously monitored and addressed, including radiation therapy technique; dosage; tumor size, location and type; other ongoing medical treatments, if applicable; and overall health status.
Mischer Neuroscience Institute has been a pioneering program in treating brain tumors with radiation therapy in the southwestern United States since acquiring the region’s first Gamma Knife in 1993. Most radiation therapies are administered as outpatient procedures.
Patients referred to Mischer Neuroscience Institute’s Radiation Oncology Program will meet with a radiation oncologist for a thorough consultation to determine if radiation therapy is the appropriate course of treatment and to discuss all aspects of possible treatments. The consultation includes a review of medical history, a physical examination, and a review of advanced imaging results.
The affiliated medical team at the Mischer Neuroscience Institute is skilled in the treatment of a wide range of primary and metastatic tumors, including:
Simulation is a crucial component of any radiation therapy treatment, and helps ensure precise and safe treatment of brain tumors.
This process begins with the attachment of a stereotactic head frame to accurately pinpoint the target to be treated in the brain. The lightweight frame is attached to the patient’s head with four pins and ensures that the radiation beams can be directed with precision to the target. The frame also prevents the head from moving during imaging and treatment.
Sedation and analgesics are administered before the head frame is attached to reduce anxiety and discomfort. Each patient is monitored throughout the entire procedure and recovery by a nurse dedicated to his or her care.
Once the head frame is attached, imaging such as MRI, CT or angiography is performed to determine the exact size, shape and position of the target in the brain. This advanced imaging allows for precise treatment planning by demonstrating the relationship between the target tumor and healthy tissues while the patient is in treatment position.
During imaging, a coordinate box is placed on the head frame to provide reference points on the images for the treatment plan. After imaging, the coordinate box is removed.
Radiation treatments are designed to work over time. This means that the effect of the treatment will be seen over a period of weeks or months. The physicians stay in contact with patients over time to assess progress, which typically includes follow-up MRI, CT or angiography images.
For more information about Memorial Hermann Cancer Centers, including how to get connected to our support services or an affiliated provider, please call (833) 770-7771 or fill out the form below to be connected to one of our Oncology Nurse Navigators.