You will learn about the different types of treatments doctors use for people with a brain tumor. Use the menu to see other pages.
The treatments that make up the standard of care for a brain tumor are described in this section. “Standard of care” refers to the most effective procedures. You are advised to take into account clinical trials as a possibility when choosing the course of treatment. A research study known as a clinical trial evaluates a novel therapeutic strategy. The novel treatment’s safety, efficacy, and potential superiority to the conventional one are questions that doctors want answered. A new medicine, a novel combination of conventional therapies, novel dosages of conventional therapies, or other treatments may all be tested in clinical research. For the treatment of all forms of brain cancer, clinical trials are an alternative to think about. Your doctor can aid in your evaluation of all available treatments.
Diverse medical specialties frequently collaborate in the treatment of brain tumors to develop a patient’s overall treatment plan that combines various forms of therapy.This is called a multidisciplinary team.A wide range of other medical specialists, such as physician assistants, nurse practitioners, oncology nurses, social workers, pharmacists, counselors, nutritionists, rehabilitation specialists, and others, may be a part of your care team. It is crucial to have a care team with experience in treating brain tumor patients, which may entail consulting with medical specialists outside of your local area to assist with diagnosis and treatment planning.
The following is a description of the typical sorts of therapies used for brain tumors. Treatment for symptoms and side effects, a crucial component of your medical care, may also be included in your care plan.
Options for treatment and advice are based on a number of variables:
- The tumor’s size, grade, and kind
- whether the tumor is placing pressure on the brain’s most important areas
- If the tumor has progressed to the CNS or other bodily areas
- potential negative effects
- preferences and general health of the patient
Brain tumors might vary in how quickly or slowly they grow. Your doctor will discuss with you how soon after diagnosis treatment should begin taking into account all of these aspects.
The following list of treatment options includes surgical procedures, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies.
Surgery may be the only course of action for a low-grade brain tumor, particularly if the entire tumor can be removed. Following surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be done if there is still a visible tumor present. Surgery is typically the first step in the treatment of higher-grade malignancies, which is then followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Together with your medical team, an exact treatment plan will be created for you.
It can be difficult to treat brain tumors effectively. Normally, the blood-brain barrier in the body shields the spinal cord and brain from toxic substances. This barrier, though, also prevents several forms of chemotherapy from entering. If the tumor is close to a sensitive area of the brain or spinal cord, surgery may be challenging. Parts of the tumor that are too small to be seen or removed during surgery may still be there even when the surgeon is able to completely remove the initial tumor. Additionally, radiation therapy might harm good tissue.
But over the past 20 years, research has considerably extended the lives of many people with brain tumors and enhanced their quality of life. These developments include improved surgical techniques, increased knowledge of the many tumor forms that react to chemotherapy and other medications, and more precise radiation therapy delivery.
Spend some time researching all of your therapy options, and make sure to clarify anything that is unclear. Discuss with your doctor the intended outcomes of each course of treatment as well as what to anticipate during it. Discussions of this nature are referred to as “shared decision-making.” When you and your doctors collaborate to select therapies that meet the objectives of your care, this is known as shared decision-making. Given the variety of available treatments for brain tumors, shared decision-making is especially crucial.Learn more about making treatment decisions.
Effects of a brain tumor on the body, mind, and society
Both a brain tumor and its treatment can have emotional, social, and financial consequences in addition to medical symptoms and side effects. The word used to describe how these consequences are treated is palliative or supportive care. Along with therapies intended to decrease, stop, or remove the growth, it is a crucial part of your care.
By controlling symptoms and assisting patients and their families with other, non-medical needs, palliative care aims to improve how you feel while receiving treatment. This kind of care is available to everybody, regardless of age or tumor kind or stage. And it frequently works best when therapy is initiated as soon as a brain tumor is discovered. People who receive palliative care in addition to tumor therapy frequently experience less severe symptoms, have a higher quality of life, and are more happy with their care overall.
There are many different types of palliative care, and these care options frequently involve medication, dietary adjustments, relaxation exercises, emotional and spiritual support, and other therapies. Additionally, you might be given palliative therapies such as chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy, which are comparable to those used to remove the tumor.
Some brain tumor symptoms can be extremely severe and have a significant negative influence on both the patients’ and their family carers’ daily life. However, the usage of specific drugs can frequently be used to control a variety of symptoms. Supportive treatment for those with brain tumors entails:
- Corticosteroids: By reducing brain swelling, these treatments help reduce headache discomfort caused by the swelling without the use of prescription painkillers. By reducing swelling in the healthy brain tissue and pressure from the tumor, these medications may also aid in the improvement of neurological symptoms.
- anti-epileptic drugs: There are various sorts of medicines that can help control seizures. Your neurologist has prescribed these drugs.
Discuss the objectives of each proposed treatment in the treatment plan with your doctor before starting any treatments. Additionally, you should discuss palliative care choices and any potential negative effects of the particular treatment plan. Speaking with a social worker and taking part in support groups are two other patient-friendly activities. Also inquire with your doctor about these options.
Your medical staff may ask you questions regarding your symptoms, side effects, and a description of each issue as you go through therapy. Tell the medical staff right away if you have any problems. This aids the medical staff in treating any symptoms and adverse effects as soon as feasible. It may also aid in averting future, more serious issues.
Surgery is the removal of the tumor along with part of the surrounding healthy tissue. It is frequently the first course of action for a brain tumor. It is often the only sort of treatment necessary for a low-grade brain tumor. Removing the tumor can frequently improve a patient’s prognosis, make other brain tumor treatments more effective, and provide tissue for genetic research and diagnostics.
A neurosurgeo is a surgeon who specializes in performing procedures on the brain and spinal column. An operation called a craniotomy, which involves removing a portion of the skull, is necessary for brain surgery. The patient’s own bone will be utilized to close the opening in the skull after the surgeon removes the tumor.
The use of cortical mapping, improved imaging, and fluorescent dyes are just a few of the quick advancements in brain tumor surgery.
- Doctors can locate the parts of the brain that manage perceptions, language, and motor functions via cortical mapping.
- Enhanced imaging technologies provide surgeons more resources to organize and carry out operations. For instance, image guided surgery (IGS), a computer-based method, enables surgeons to pinpoint the site of the tumor very precisely. This is a highly specialized method, hence it might not be extensively used.
- The morning after operation, a fluorescent dye called 5-aminolevulinic acid can be ingested. Tumor cells soak up this dye. A special microscope and light can be used by doctors to identify the cells that have absorbed the dye during the operation. This enables surgeons to safely remove the greatest amount of the tumor.
It is becoming more and more frequent to execute the surgery while the patient is awake for a portion of it when the tumor is close to the speech center of the brain. The patient is frequently awakened after the surface of the brain has been reached. The specific area of the brain that regulates speech is then located using specialized electrical stimulation techniques. Using this method to remove the tumor may help prevent damage.