GammaTile Therapy

Author: Courtney Misher, MPH, BS R.T.(T)
Last Reviewed:

If you have a brain tumor that is being removed with surgery, you will likely need radiation therapy after surgery. Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to damage the DNA of cells. This helps kill any cancer cells that may be left after surgery. With traditional radiation therapy, you receive treatment 5 days a week for many weeks. GammaTile is a different type of radiation used for treating brain tumors. The goal of GammaTile Therapy is to stop brain tumors from coming back after surgery. 

What is GammaTile Therapy? 

Single GammaTile.

GammaTiles are thin tiles, about the size of postage stamps, that have four small radiation sources inside. These sources are radioactive and deliver radiation straight to the tumor cavity (area in the brain where the tumor was removed from). The radiation comes from the tile continuously for some time. After all the radiation has been delivered, the radiation sources become inactive. The tiles are naturally soaked up by the body over time, leaving only the small inactive sources. 

How does GammaTile Therapy work?

After the surgeon has removed the tumor, the tiles are placed around the tumor cavity. Tile placement takes about 5 minutes. The number of tiles needed and where they are placed depends on the size and location of the tumor. Your surgeon and radiation oncologist will work together to make these decisions.  

The tiles begin delivering radiation right away, unlike traditional radiation therapy where treatment often starts some weeks after surgery. The radiation kills any remaining tumor cells, so the cells are not able to grow.  

What are the advantages of GammaTile Therapy? 

There are a few advantages of GammaTile Therapy: 

  • The radiation is focused right in the area it needs to be. 
  • Treatment starts right away. 
  • There is often no need to stay in the hospital longer after your surgery than you would without the tile placement.
  • Because GammaTile Therapy placement only takes a few minutes, you will not be in surgery much longer.
  • Over time, your body absorbs the tiles, so no other surgery is needed to remove them.
  • You won’t need to go for daily radiation treatments, letting you go about your normal daily routine.  

Am I radioactive after the GammaTile(s) is placed? 

Three views of the GammaTile.

Each tile houses 4 Cesium 131 (Cs-131) sources. In the first 33 days, 90% of the radiation dose is delivered. After 100 days, the tiles are no longer considered radioactive. The risk of exposing others depends on the number of tiles placed, where the tiles are, and other factors that are different for every patient. If precautions are necessary, your healthcare team will give you instructions before leaving the hospital.  

What are the possible side effects? 

GammaTile Therapy is meant to protect healthy tissue and lessen radiation side effects.  Potential side effects include hair loss, necrosis, wound breakdown, and scalp infection. Side effects may differ based on how sensitive the nearby tissues are, the amount of radiation you are getting, and where the tiles are placed.   

Because GammaTile is placed during tumor removal surgery, there is a chance of complications from the surgery. These could include infection, bleeding, and problems with wound healing. For more information about these potential side effects, talk to your healthcare team. 

Is GammaTile Therapy right for me? 

GammaTile Therapy is FDA-cleared to treat metastatic brain tumors, aggressive meningiomas, and high-grade gliomas, including glioblastomas. GammaTile is one potential treatment option and is not available in all areas. You and your provider should talk about your treatment choices and decide together what the best treatment is for you.

References

Gammatile. (2021, March 4). Home. GammaTile Therapy. Retrieved December 1, 2021, from: https://gammatile.com/ 

Brachman, D. G., Youssef, E., Dardis, C. J., Sanai, N., Zabramski, J. M., Smith, K. A., Little, A. S., Shetter, A. G., Thomas, T., McBride, H. L., Sorensen, S., Spetzler, R. F., & Nakaji, P. (2019). Resection and permanent intracranial brachytherapy using modular, biocompatible cesium-131 implants: Results in 20 recurrent, previously irradiated meningiomas. Journal of Neurosurgery, 131(6), 1819–1828. https://doi.org/10.3171/2018.7.jns18656 

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