Cancer diagnosis and treatment at West Cancer Center involves a team of experts in multiple specialties. This multidisciplinary, team-based approach provides the net comfort to our patients that they are going to receive the best care available, right here in Memphis. 


About Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a very precise form of therapeutic radiology. Even though it is called surgery, a Gamma Knife procedure does not involve actual surgery, nor is the Gamma Knife really a knife at all. The procedure involves no blood, is virtually painless, and carries a lower risk than general surgery. It is called surgery because a result similar to an actual surgical procedure is created by a one-session radiation therapy session.

The Gamma Knife uses beams of highly-focused gamma rays to treat small to medium-size lesions, usually in the brain. Many beams of gamma radiation join to focus on the lesion under treatment, providing a very intense dose of radiation without surgical incision or opening. The beams of radiation are very precisely focused to reach the tumor, lesion, or other area being treated with minimal effect on surrounding healthy tissue.

The Gamma Knife works in the same manner as other types of therapeutic radiology: it distorts or destroys the DNA of tumor cells, causing them to be unable to reproduce and grow. The tumor will shrink in size over time. 

Your dedication team of Radiation Oncologists will provide you with all necessary information to prepare for this treatment service.

What to Expect

Gamma Knife treatment generally involves these steps:

Head Frame Placement

In order to keep your head from moving during treatment, a box-shaped frame is gently placed on your head. The head frame is also a guide to focus the gamma ray beams to the exact location of the lesion being treated.

Tumor or lesion imaging

Once the head frame is in place, the exact location of the lesion to be treated will be determined using CT scans or MRIs.

Radiation dose planning

The results of the imaging scan, along with other information will be used by the radiation therapy team to determine your treatment plan.

Radiation treatment

After being positioned for the treatment, a type of helmet with many hundreds of holes is placed over your head frame. These holes help us to focus the radiation beams on the exact target. Treatment will last from a few minutes up to a few hours, depending on the type and location of the area being treated. Generally, only one session is required for a lesion. 

Dealing with side effects

Your body tissue is trying to repair itself as the radiation is trying to destroy the tumor, so you may have some fatigue or a headache. This is normal. To learn more on how to deal with any potential side effects, click here.