Radiation for Brain Cancer

Radiotherapy Approaches

Roswell Park’s Radiation Medicine Department provides a full range of radiation treatments, including:

Gamma Knife Radiosurgery

Gamma Knife effectively treats benign and metastatic tumors. Learn more about this minimally invasive technique from Dr. Fenstermaker.

This medical treatment destroys a brain tumor by zapping it with 192 intersecting gamma ray beams. That’s the concept behind the Leksell Gamma Knife® Icon™, a minimally-invasive treatment used primarily to treat benign tumors and malignant metastatic tumors that have spread to the brain from other parts of the body.

The Gamma Knife unit is also used to treat other brain conditions, including trigeminal neuralgia and arteriovenous malformations. In some cases, Gamma Knife enables treatment of deeply embedded tumors that cannot be reached with conventional surgery. Gamma Knife Radiosurgery is done as an outpatient procedure, in a single day, and does not require general anesthesia. Roswell Park is the only Buffalo institution to offer Gamma Knife radiosurgery. In 2017, Roswell Park saw the highest volume in the U.S. for a single Gamma Knife device, treating 540 patients.

Roswell Park Advantage

The most advanced technology is only as good as the human hands that operate it. In his career, Dheerendra Prasad, MD, M-Ch, Director of the Gamma Knife Center, has treated more than 9,000 patients with this method and serves as an on-site mentor to institutions in the U.S. and abroad.

Image-Guided Radiation Therapy

Roswell Park is the only institution in Western New York equipped with the Trilogy Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) System, an innovative computer-assisted device that can deliver radiation more than 60 percent faster than conventional radiation therapy equipment. The Trilogy is precise enough to pinpoint an area as small as one millimeter — about the width of a coarse grain of sand.

Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy (SBRT)

SBRT delivers very high doses of sharply focused radiation, guided by up-to-the-moment images that capture the tumor’s exact shape and location. SBRT, which can knock out radiation-resistant tumors, even where radiation has already been delivered, offers a welcome alternative to patients who cannot tolerate surgery because of other medical conditions. SBRT requires a sizable team of highly specialized experts including radiation physicists, dosimetrists, and medical technicians. Roswell Park is only one of a few institutions in North America where this treatment is available.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) or 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy

Using a computer-controlled device, called a linear accelerator, these treatments enable precise doses of radiation to be delivered to tumors or to target specific areas within the tumors.


While some tumor types respond to drug treatment, especially when combined with other therapies, chemotherapy choices are limited because of the blood-brain barrier, the brain’s natural defense system that prevents foreign substances, including many medications, from entering the brain.

Our neuro-oncologists perform intrathecal chemotherapy, a procedure that circumvents the blood-brain barrier and can reach the brain tumor.