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What Are the Side Effects of Radiation Therapy for Meningioma?

Woman undergoing radiation therapy for meningioma

Often used for meningioma treatment, radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses powerful X-rays to destroy cancerous cells. While there are some situations in which a small implant is used to deliver the radiation internally, external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) is more commonly used for meningioma.

How is radiation therapy used to treat meningioma?

With EBRT, radioactive beams are generated in a machine outside of the body. They are then directed at pre-calculated locations in the patient’s brain. The machine aims the beams at the tumor, often from several different angles. The delivery process itself usually only takes a few minutes, but positioning and setup can make the total appointment take closer to an hour.

Radiation therapy side effects

The radiation treatment process itself is not painful. However, when healthy tissues are exposed to radioactive beams, they can sustain damage that leads to side effects. The most common side effects of radiation therapy for meningioma include:

  • Mild skin reactions
  • Fatigue
  • Cognitive changes, such as difficulty thinking clearly and gradual memory loss
  • Changes in hormone levels (if radiation therapy is delivered to the pituitary gland)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches

Aside from cognitive changes, which can become permanent, most of these side effects are temporary and usually go away within several weeks after the completion of treatment. In the meantime, most side effects can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes.

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we invite our patients to consult with our experienced supportive care providers before, during and after treatment. And, because we use the latest radiation therapy delivery methods to minimize exposure to the healthy tissues, our patients are often able to maintain a high quality of life.

To learn more about managing the side effects of radiation therapy for meningioma, you can consult with one of our experienced brain cancer specialists. To request a consultation, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.