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Brain tumor treatment often requires the expertise of several specialists including a neurosurgeon, neuroradiologist, pathologist, oncologist, and pain management specialist.
The type of treatment usually depends on the patient’s symptoms and health, imaging studies, and biopsy results. Many patients require a combination of non-surgical and surgical treatments. Each case is evaluated on an individual basis and the treatment is designed to meet the patient’s needs.
Radiation therapy can help to control disease by killing and eliminating cancer cells, shrinking a tumor, or preventing growth. Radiation targets the DNA of a malignant cell because it is more susceptible to radiation than a normal cell. Altering a cell’s DNA interferes with its ability to divide and grow.
Standard external beam radiation therapy applies multiple treatments of radiation to the brain. Each treatment damages both malignant and normal cells, but the normal cells repair the damage more quickly. Recently, a new form of radiation therapy, called stereotactic radiosurgery, has been developed which targets the tumor with smaller doses of radiation from multiple points around the head that combine into an intense dose at the site of the tumor. This allows surgeons to focus the radiation to the tumor while sparing the normal tissue around it. This type of radiation therapy is delivered using technology called the Gamma Knife. Radiosurgery can be an effective treatment for many benign and malignant tumors.
Chemotherapy treats and controls cancer by using drugs that destroy cancer cells by interfering with cell growth and its ability to reproduce. There are many types of chemotherapy drugs that may be combined with other treatments. Chemotherapy drugs can even be implanted in the brain during surgery in the form of wafers that secrete the drug into the tumor. However, chemotherapy is not effective or recommended for all types of brain tumors.
Pain therapy is also called palliative treatment – the goal is to relieve pain, reduce symptoms, and prevent complications. These are treatments that do not cure the disease, but rather improve the patient’s quality of life. Treatment may include anti-inflammatory medication, oral or IV narcotics, and morphine pain pumps.
The goal of surgery, whether the brain tumor is benign or malignant, is remove the tumor completely without injuring normal brain tissue. Even after surgical resection (partial removal) or excision (complete removal), some tumors require non-surgical treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy.
- Tumor Location :Not all brain tumors are operable.
- Chemotherapy or Radiation: These treatments can affect a patient’s white blood cell count. A low white blood cell count can compromise the body’s ability to fight infection and heal a surgical wound.
- General Health: Certain treatments affect appetite leading to weight loss and general health deterioration. Further, good nutrition is essential to wound healing.
The amount of time the patient is hospitalized depends on the type of procedure performed and the side effects experienced. For example, the side effects from radiation therapy or chemotherapy can be significant and may include nausea, loss of appetite, and fatigue. Fortunately, these side effects are treatable.
After surgery, the treating physician closely monitors the patient’s condition and recovery. Periodic re-evaluation may require new lab tests and imaging studies. Pain management may be a component of long-term treatment. Rehabilitation to regain or adjust to loss of neurological function may be necessary. Additionally, the treating physician may add nutritional support to the patient’s recovery program.
LastUpdate: 2016-05-23 13:27:39