NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Brain Cancer – Gliomas, Version 1.2016
Test and treatment overview
You will be alone while the technician operates the
machine from a nearby room. He or she will be able
to see, hear, and speak with you through an intercom
and video system. As treatment is given, you may
hear noises and see lights. One session can take
about 15 to 20 minutes.
The total dose of radiation is split into a number
of treatments called fractions. The number of
treatments varies among people with gliomas as
noted below. Your doctor will see you every week to
review how you are doing.
Fractionated EBRT consists of one session 5
days a week for about 5 to 6 weeks.
You may have more or fewer treatments.
Hyperfractionated EBRT consists of fewer
sessions. Your doctor will discuss how many
treatments you will receive.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is typically given in
one treatment session.
Fractionated stereotactic radiotherapy is
radiosurgery given in up to 5 sessions.
Side effects of radiation
Side effects from radiation therapy differ among
people. Factors like tumor type, tumor site, radiation
dose, and length of treatment play a role. Side
effects are cumulative meaning they are the worse at
the end of treatment.
The most common side effect of radiation is extreme
tiredness despite sleep (fatigue). You may also
have hair loss where treatment was received. Other
side effects of radiation include swelling and loss of
appetite. In rare cases, your skin may become pink,
like a sunburn.
A rare side effect of radiation is death of tissue
(necrosis). This is like scarring but in the brain. This
tissue can cause swelling in the brain and may cause
symptoms. In some cases, necrosis can only be
seen on brain images.
Not all side effects of radiation are listed here.
Please ask your treatment team for a complete list
of common and rare side effects. They can give you
a full list and let you know which ones you are more
likely to get. If a side effect bothers you, tell your
treatment team. There may be ways to help you feel
better. There are also ways to prevent some side
Use a satin pillowcase. Satin is
smooth whereas cotton is rough,
causing your sensitive hair follicles to
be painful and pulled out.
Your scalp may get irritated. Take
a washcloth, soaking it in saline, and
place on tender spots. It will help
cool the irritated sections.