Common Treatment Options for Brain Cancer
People with brain cancer may undergo surgery to assess the abnormalities discovered by physicians or remove the cancerous tumor. It may not be possible to remove a tumor that is abnormal. Therefore, surgeons often take a sample of the tumor to determine its type and consider alternative treatment options.
Cancer patients with low-grade tumors that are not aggressive may be treated with anti-seizure and antiepileptic drugs to prevent seizures caused by cancerous tumors. Steroid drugs, such as dexamethasone, are often administered to relieve swelling in the brain. Patients with excess cerebrospinal fluid that is collecting around the brain may require a shunt placed in the brain to drain fluid while taking medications for brain cancer.
A common treatment option for brain cancer, especially prior to or after surgery, is radiation therapy. This type of therapy uses high-energy rays to shrink or kill tumor cells. The purpose of radiation therapy is to also stop tumors from growing and multiplying. Radiation therapy is a local type of therapy that only targets the affected tumor area instead of exposing the rest of the body to high-energy rays. Varying treatment options are available, such as external radiation, internal or implant radiation, or a knifeless surgical technique known as stereotactic radiosurgery.
Chemotherapy uses a single drug or a combination of powerful drugs to kill cancerous tumor cells in the brain. The drugs can be administered through an IV line or orally. Some physicians administer chemotherapy drugs through a shunt within the brain designed to drain excess fluid. This type of treatment option is administered in cycles with an introductory intensive treatment that is followed by recovery and rest. The cycles can last a few weeks, and the drugs produce strong side effects such as loss of hair, vomiting and nausea.
Treatment for cancerous brain tumors, also known as brain cancer, depends on the type of tumor and the location and size of the tumor. A patient's age and general health are also considered when determining treatment. All treatment options should be discussed with a medical professional. Individuals with brain cancer should know their treatment options to determine the best course of action.