Brain Cancer Treatment
Chemotherapy for Brain Cancer
Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to kill tumor cells.
- A single drug or a combination of drugs may be used.
- The drugs are given by mouth or through an IV line. Some medications are given through the shunt put in place to drain excess fluid from the brain.
- Chemotherapy is usually given in cycles. A cycle consists of a short period of intensive treatment followed by a period of rest and recovery. Each cycle lasts a few weeks.
- Most regimens are designed so that two to four cycles are completed. There is then a break in the treatment to see how your tumor has responded to the therapy.
- The side effects of chemotherapy are well known. They may be very difficult to tolerate for some people. They include nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, loss of appetite, loss of hair, among others. Some of these side effects can be relieved or improved by medication.
New Brain Cancer Treatments
New therapies for cancer are being developed all the time. When a therapy shows promise, it is studied in a lab and improved as much as possible. It is then tested on people with cancer; these tests are called clinical trials.
- Clinical trials are available for virtually every kind of cancer.
- The advantage of clinical trials is that they offer new therapies that may be more effective than existing therapies or have fewer side effects.
- The disadvantage is that the therapy has not been proven to work or may not work in everyone.
- Many people with cancer are eligible for participation in clinical trials.
- To find out more, ask your oncologist. A list of clinical trials is available at the web site of the National Cancer Institute.
Once a brain tumor is diagnosed, you need to be very careful to keep all appointments with consultants and your primary health care provider. In general, people with brain cancer are at increased risk for additional medical problems and, potentially, reoccurrence of cancer or worsening of their symptoms.
Brain Cancer Survival Rate
Survival rates in brain cancer vary widely. The major factors that influence survival are the type of cancer, its location, whether it can be surgically removed or reduced in size, your age, and other medical problems.
- In general, younger patients have a better prognosis.
- Brain cancer that has spread (or metastasized) from somewhere else in the body is the most common type. Survival rates depend on the original cancer and other factors.
Treatment for most types of brain cancer is available and will often give you a better chance of survival. Discuss treatment options and best-estimated prognosis with your cancer team.
Support Groups and Counseling
Living with cancer presents many new challenges, both for you and for your family and friends.
- You will probably have many worries about how the cancer will affect you and your ability to "live a normal life," that is, to care for your family and home, to hold your job, and to continuing the friendships and activities you enjoy.
- Many people feel anxious and depressed. Some people feel angry and resentful; others feel helpless and defeated.