Frequently Asked Questions
Below are the answers to important questions about GammaTile™ Therapy for people with brain tumors and their caregivers. Please speak with your treatment team to see if GammaTile Therapy is right for you or your loved one. For more information, watch the webinar below from the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research & Information, or contact us.
What is GammaTile Therapy?
GammaTile is a Surgically Targeted Radiation Therapy (STaRT) for recurrent intracranial neoplasms (brain tumors) that provides immediate, dose-intense radiation treatment beginning during tumor removal surgery. GammaTile has radiation sources embedded in a pure collagen tile that gives patients a precise dose of radiation while limiting radiation to healthy brain tissue.
How does GammaTile Therapy work?
After the brain tumor is surgically removed, the surgeon places GammaTile directly into the tumor bed, so any remaining tumor cells can be targeted immediately with radiation therapy. Like other radiation therapies, GammaTile works by disrupting the tumor cell replication process. Radiation damages the tumor cell DNA so it is unable to replicate and the tumor cell eventually dies. Over time and after the radiation is no longer active, the collagen tile is naturally absorbed by the body.
Is GammaTile FDA approved?
Yes, GammaTile is FDA cleared to deliver radiation therapy in patients with recurrent intracranial neoplasms (all types of brain tumors).
What is EBRT? What is Brachytherapy? How is GammaTile different than these radiation therapies?
The two most common and established types of radiation therapy used to treat brain tumors are External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) and Brachytherapy.
External Beam Radiation Therapy (EBRT) - The most common type of radiation for brain tumor treatment is EBRT. With EBRT, after a tumor removal, the incision must heal for 2 to 3 weeks prior to starting EBRT because radiation treatment traveling through the incision can disrupt the healing process. After this healing occurs, a machine is used to aim high-energy rays from outside the body into the tumor area. EBRT is usually done during outpatient visits at a hospital or treatment center, with 15 to 30 sessions occurring over several weeks (typically 5 days a week for 3 to 6 weeks). When treating aggressive tumors - tumors that can grow rapidly - it is important to attack the remaining tumor cells as soon as possible after surgery to prevent re-growth. During the time the incision is healing (the 2 to 3 week waiting period before EBRT can start), the tumor cells have had an opportunity to replicate and grow. GammaTile is different than EBRT because it starts treating any remaining tumor cells immediately upon placement at the time of surgery. Additionally, GammaTile patients and their caregivers do not have to travel to and from the treatment center as with EBRT sessions. The patient is fighting the tumor with cutting edge radiation therapy while going about his or her daily life.
Brachytherapy - Brachytherapy, or internal radiation therapy, places radiation sources very close to or inside the tumor during surgery. The radiation begins working right away, in an effective dose. However, with traditional brain brachytherapy, the dose will be extremely high around the radiation source, which at times can cause negative side effects, including swelling and damage to healthy brain tissue.
GammaTile Therapy - GammaTile is Surgically Targeted Radiation Therapy (STaRT), and is different from traditional brachytherapy because it has a collagen buffer around the radiation sources to give an optimal dose of radiation to tumor cells. By offsetting the radiation source from the brain tissue with a collagen tile, patients using this advanced form of brachytherapy get a jump start on radiation therapy while reducing the potential for negative side effects compared to traditional brachytherapy.
Do I have to stay in the hospital longer if I receive GammaTile Therapy?
No. GammaTile Therapy should not add additional time to your hospital stay.
Will GammaTile make my surgery longer?
GammaTile placement adds just a few minutes to the length of a typical surgery.
Does GammaTile Therapy replace chemotherapy?
Your treatment team may use GammaTile in conjunction with chemotherapy, depending on the type of tumor. Please speak with your treatment team for specifics on your individual care plan.
Will GammaTile Therapy cause hair loss?
Although it is rare, GammaTile may cause new hair loss. In a clinical study, 1 out of 74 patients experienced hair loss related to GammaTile Therapy.
Will GammaTile Therapy delay the healing of my incision?
GammaTile does not seem to have a major impact on wound healing compared to brain tumor removal surgery alone. The GammaTile is placed away from the surgical incision, and typically the bones in the skull help protect the scalp incision from the effects of radiation.
If I have had radiation therapy in the brain previously, can I still have GammaTile Therapy?
Probably. In a recently published clinical study, all patients treated with GammaTile had previous radiation therapy in the brain. Every patient situation is unique, and your previous radiation records will need to be reviewed by your radiation oncologist prior to placement.
What is the half-life of the GammaTile radiation source?
The half-life of the radioactive sources used in GammaTile is 9.7 days. With GammaTile Therapy, 90% of the radiation dose is delivered in 33 days. After 100 days, the GammaTile radiation sources are considered completely inert, or free of radiation.
Half-life is defined as the time it takes for the radioactivity of an isotope to fall to half its original value. An example of half-life can be seen in the cylinders below. As you can see, each half-life cuts the new amount, or dose, in half.
Can a patient have GammaTile Therapy more than once?
Oftentimes, it is possible. If additional surgeries are required, you and your physician can discuss the placement of GammaTile.
Will I need to have surgery to remove GammaTile?
No. One of the great things about GammaTile is that the collagen tile is resorbed by the body naturally. The seeds themselves will remain in the body, but are inert and very small, so they will not need to be removed.
Can GammaTile Therapy be used for cancers outside the brain?
Currently, GammaTile is only indicated for recurrent brain tumor treatment.
What are the side effects of GammaTile Therapy?
GammaTile Therapy side effects are typically more limited compared to other traditional radiation treatments. The potential for, and symptoms of, adverse events related to radiation exposure vary depending on the radiosensitivity of the exposed tissue, the amount of radiation delivered, and the placement of GammaTile(s).
Since GammaTile is placed during tumor excision surgery, the possible complications of neurosurgery, including but not limited to cerebrospinal fluid leaks, infection, delayed hemorrhage, seizures, and adhesion formation, also apply. Please talk to your physician about expected side effects associated with your particular tumor excision surgery.
2. Data on File, GT Medical Technologies, Inc.
GammaTile Therapy is intended to deliver radiation therapy for patients with recurrent brain tumors. For full safety information, please refer to the instructions for use.