Radiation is a common treatment for brain tumors and can be used alone or combined with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Three delivery options exist for radiation therapy:

  • External delivery
    • Traditional form of radiation therapy.
    • Directs radiation at the tumor and the area surrounding it.
    • Treatment occurs five days a week, with length of treatments depending on the tumor type.
  • Internal delivery
    • Also known as brachytherapy.
    • Places radioactive pellets directly in the brain, which release a measured dosage of radiation daily.
    • Patients are frequently hospitalized when the pellets are most active.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
    • Patient is fitted with a frame to stabilize the head.
    • Imaging technique finds the exact location of tumor cells.
    • Instrument precisely targets radiation dose to the tumor while not affecting surrounding healthy tissue.


Possible Side Effects and Risks of Radiation

Radiation treatment often produces swelling of the brain. This can often make your symptoms feel worse at first but can be controlled by taking steroids.

Possible side effects:

  • Redness and irritation in the mouth
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in or loss of taste
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Short and long term cognitive and neurologic problems
  • Skin changes such as redness, flaking and swelling

Talk to your physician about effects you are having and ways side effects can be managed.

Like this article?


Recommended Reads for Caregivers & Loved ones: “Daughter” by Laura Dill

My First Time Attending SNO (Society for Neuro-Oncology)!

CaringBridge: Bridging the Gap Between Patients and Caregivers

Explore Topics


Find Resources


Join Your Path to Hope


Get the Latest from Brains for the Cure

Add your address to our mailing list to get monthly updates about progress in the fight against brain tumors, as well as new community opportunities.

Leave a comment

Brains for the Cure is a program of the Head for the Cure Foundation, which is powered by the generous support of donors. Learn more about how you can join the fight.