Treating Brain Cancer

If doctors determine that you have a tumor, the treatment options and prognosis are based on the following factors:

  • Tumor type
  • Location and size of tumor
  • Tumor grade (how abnormal the cells are)
  • Your age, medical history and general health

Treatment may include (alone or in combination):

  • Surgery. Surgery is usually the first step in the treatment of brain tumors. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while maintaining neurological function. A biopsy may be done first to examine the types of cells the tumor is made of for a diagnosis. This is frequently done if the tumor is in an area with sensitive structures around it that may be injured if the whole tumor is surgically removed
  • Chemotherapy (there are many types)
  • Radiation therapy (there are many types)
  • Steroids (to treat and prevent swelling especially in the brain)
  • Antiseizure medication (to treat and prevent seizures associated with intracranial pressure)
  • Placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt (also called a VP shunt). This is a tube that is placed into the fluid filled spaces of the brain called ventricles. The other end of the tube is placed into the abdomen to help drain excess fluid that can build up in the brain and cause an increase in pressure in the brain
  • Supportive care (to minimize the side effects of the tumor or treatment), such as pain relief and stress reduction techniques
  • Rehabilitation (to regain lost motor skills and muscle strength; speech, physical, and occupational therapists may be involved in the health care team)
  • Antibiotics (to treat and prevent infections)
  • Continuous follow-up care (to manage disease, detect recurrence of the tumor, and to manage late effects of treatment)
  • Hospice care for those who determine that continued aggressive treatment will not provide a benefit
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