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Brain Cancer Health Center

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Brain Cancer Treatment

Treatment for a brain tumor differs depending on several factors: a person's age, general health, and the size, location, and type of tumor.

You and your loved ones will have many questions about brain cancer, the treatment, side effects, and the long-term outlook. Your health care team is the best source of this information. Don't hesitate to ask.

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Brain Cancer Treatment Overview

Treatment of brain cancer is usually complex. Most treatment plans involve several consulting doctors.

  • The team of doctors includes neurosurgeons (specialists in the brain and nervous system), oncologists, radiation oncologists (doctors who practice radiation therapy), and, of course, your primary health care provider. Your team may also include a dietitian, a social worker, a physical therapist, and, possibly, other specialists.
  • The treatment protocols vary widely according to the location of the tumor, its size and type, your age, and any additional medical problems that you may have.
  • The most widely used treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In most cases, more than one of these is used.

Brain Cancer Surgery

Many people with a brain tumor undergo surgery.

  • The purpose of surgery is to confirm that the abnormality seen during testing is indeed a tumor and to remove the tumor. If the tumor cannot be removed, the surgeon will take a sample of the tumor to identify its type.
  • In some cases, mostly in benign tumors, symptoms can be completely cured by surgical removal of the tumor. The neurosurgeon will attempt to remove all the tumor when possible.

You may undergo several treatments and procedures before surgery. For example:

  • You may be given a steroid drug, such as dexamethasone (Decadron), to relieve swelling.
  • You may be treated with an anticonvulsant drug to relieve or prevent seizures.
  • If you have excess cerebrospinal fluid collecting around the brain, a thin, plastic tube called a shunt may be placed to drain the fluid. One end of the shunt is placed in the cavity where fluid collects; the other end is threaded under your skin to another part of the body. The fluid drains from the brain to a site from which the fluid can be easily eliminated.

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