Gamma Knife

€40,000 for research into the Gamma Knife

Your amazing donation of €40,000 will allow our researchers Eline Hessen and Gerben Borst to look into procedures using the Gamma Knife, a radiation tool that can deliver radiation beams to the head. Their research focuses on stereotactic radiation therapy for brain metastases.

Cancer that has spread to the brain (brain metastases) is an increasingly common diagnosis in patients with malignant tumors. Over the last decennia, treatment of these metastases has transitioned from whole brain radiation therapy to stereotactic radiation therapy, a therapy form where the tumor receives a high and extremely precise dose of radiation over one or multiple sessions. This dose is delivered through external  beams from various angles, which increases precision while keeping the radiation field as small as possible.

Eline Hessen: “The Gamma Knife is the perfect tool for stereotactic radiation therapy for brain metastases. The unique concept allows us to deliver a high dose of radiation to these tumors with great precision. At the Netherlands Cancer Institute we use the newest version of this machine: the Icon. This allows us to deliver not just single dose beams, but also fractionated stereotactic radiation therapy. It is vital that our patient is positioned correctly in the radiation machine before the start of these sessions. Sometimes we deliver the full high dose in one session, and sometimes we use multiple sessions.

One of Eline Hessen’s current research topics is the potential changes in tumors over the course of the radiation treatment for brain metastases, and whether these will affect the radiation dose entering the tumor. Eline Hessen explains: “A previous trial has shown that radiation therapy for brain metastases can cause changes in tumor volume and location. This can affect the volume of the tumor that receives the planned radiation dose, especially in patients who did not have surgery.” During the running trial, we take additional MRI images before and halfway through the treatment to find out more about the changes in size and location of the tumor, and whether changes occur in the blood circulation and walls of the blood vessels. If necessary, we can adapt the treatment to these new characteristics.”

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