Brain cancer treatment
Once brain cancer has been diagnosed, you may seek treatment options with the help of a variety of doctors. A person's survival rate with brain cancer is determined by how early the cancer is detected, as it is the age of the person, where the cancer is specifically located, and the type of tumor. This is why treatment options vary according to several factors, including:
Treatment goals for brain cancer include:
Medical teams typically work together across disciplines to develop a treatment plan for brain cancer. A neurologist or neuro-oncologist frequently coordinates the treatment plan, ordering tests and recommending additional specialists. Possible specialists that make up brain cancer treatment teams include:
Chemotherapy involves the use of chemicals to target the cancer. Chemo may be administered in a doctor's office, the hospital, or even at home. These chemicals may either be given intravenously or orally. Sometimes small wafers of chemicals are placed directly in the brain to kill the cancer cells. Side affects of chemotherapy include fevers, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, a loss of appetite.
Clinical trials use the newest drugs, surgeries, or newfound techniques to deliver treatment. While a person diagnosed with cancer has access to new treatments, side-affects may be unknown. And, no treatment carries with it a guarantee of a cure of brain cancer.
Therapy or counselling may be helpful to help a person cope with the emotional stresses that accompany brain cancer. Some brain cancer patients find support groups helpful. There are a variety of treatment options to deal with both the emotional burden and re-learning of skills due to brain cancer.
Radiation therapy takes on a variety of forms and may involve radiation coming from an external device, or it may involve placing radioactive structures directly in the head. If radiation comes from an external device-for example, through X-Rays-then it may be directed towards the entire brain, or the tumor itself. Radiation therapy may carry side effects, some of which are nausea, headaches, fatigue, loss of hair in the area treated, tender skin, seizures, and sometimes death if healthy brain cells are too significantly impacted.
Radiosurgery or stereotactic radiosurgery involves placing several low-dose radiation beams directly on the location of a tumor. Although the radiation dosage is low, because several beams pinpoint the tumor directly, and the overall concentration of radiation at one point is effective.
Additionally, support groups are available to help those with brain cancer connect with survivors of brain cancer. Being proactive by doing as much research as possible on brain cancer, and treatment options, can give a person a greater sense of control and relief.
Surgery is often one part of a comprehensive treatment program, frequently involving chemotherapy or radiation therapy that kill remaining cancer cells. Brain cancer candidates may also work with other specialist to plan for post-surgery rehabilitation, whether it is for speech skills, or other tasks. Brain surgery is a delicate process, and is not always possible due to the general health or may risk injuring areas of the brain devoted to essential life functions.
During a craniotomy, part of the skull is removed temporarily to reach the tumor and as much of the tumor is removed as possible. Depending on where the tumor is, and other factors, some surgeries may be performed while the patient is awake, in order to ensure that no brain damage occurs during the removal of the tumor.
There is a risk of brain damage whenever brain surgery occurs. Additionally, post-surgery complications may include fluid build-up inside the skull, but medication may be prescribed-specifically, steroids-that may help with this. Sometimes, a second surgery is needed in order to reduce fluid build-up.