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My Encounter With Gamma Knife

Last updated: November 2022

At the time of my diagnosis, my CT scans showed metastatic lung cancer in my brain. Further brain MRI confirmed a solitary lesion in the left basal ganglia which is cystic in appearance with a small solid enhancing component. I first met with a radiation oncologist in my cancer care center to discuss gamma knife treatment. Furthermore, he explained the CNS's point of view. Even though I was completely asymptomatic and found with an ALK mutation, he still explained the treatment just in case I would need it in the future.

First time to hear gamma knife

At first, I thought it was like a surgery where they cut my brain open with a knife. As my radiation oncologist utter the word gamma knife, I was extremely scared. All I could think of was I received a death sentence. But he calmed me down and said it is not as invasive as traditional open surgery. At that moment, I started getting interested and asked a lot of questions. I was enlightened by how it is a modern and safe procedure.

Gamma knife facility

The mandated cancer care agency looking after me operates gamma knife surgery (GKS). The facility was established in 2003 and has been upgraded to be at par with the current technology. Before the older equipment requires manual positioning. But modern technology saves hours of time in treating patients. The location is so close to home.

Gamma knife with my condition

After my appointment with my radiation oncologist, he assured me that the treatment will only be necessary should the location, size, and shape of my brain tumor change. Happy that my ALK Positive inhibitor has shrunk my brain metastasis after a few months of taking it. Thus, the gamma knife is set aside for now. But brain MRI will continue.

Recovery after gamma knife treatment

Everyone’s experience is different. Some have a quick recovery and others get complications. Since the procedure does not involve a scalpel or open neurosurgery, my radiation oncologist said most patients return home the same day and resume full activities within one or two days. However, risks or side effects may happen.

Benefits of gamma knife procedure

Lung cancer is known to metastasize in the brain. There are cases where patients have multiple brain tumors that can be treated at the same time with a gamma knife. The treatment provides the best and most successful outcomes. In addition, it is a safer and more accurate alternative to treat brain metastasis, especially to hard-to-reach tumors and inoperable. I am thankful my case has one spot only in my brain and has been invisible due to my ALK-positive TKI.

A necessary treatment

My brain MRI remains semi-annually for tumor monitoring. I hope there will be no changes in my brain mets so gamma knife treatment is out of the picture. For now, I am fortunate to have access to the gamma knife facility and treatment. Besides that, I have assigned cancer specialists who make sure my life is prolonged.

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