After you have received a diagnosis of a brain tumor, the next course of action would be to find the most suitable treatment for yourself. Most patients think that surgery is the only treatment for cancer. But, you will be surprised to know that due to the advancement in medical science, many novel treatment options have also emerged.
Let’s delve deeper into treatments for brain tumors.
Factors Influencing Brain Tumor Treatment
There are several factors that can influence the treatment of brain tumors. These include
- The type, grade, and size of the brain tumor
- If the tumor is exerting pressure on important parts of the brain or spinal cord
- Whether the tumor has spread
- Patient’s preference
- Overall health
- Side effects of the treatment
If the tumor is low grade then brain tumor surgery may be enough to remove the tumor completely. However, if the tumor is located in a vital area then the neurosurgeon may not be able to perform surgery. Likewise, the blood-brain barrier may keep out most of the chemotherapy drugs. Thus, a doctor has to evaluate several factors while deciding on a treatment plan.
How can Brain Tumors be Treated?
Here, we have discussed some of the treatments for brain tumor
Brain tumor surgery is commonly used to remove the tumor. In fact, it may be the only treatment required for a low-grade brain tumor. The neurosurgeon will perform the operation by creating an opening in the skull. This procedure is called a craniotomy. The surgeon tries to remove the entire tumor whenever possible. However, the tumor will be partially removed if it is located in a vital region of the brain that can potentially be damaged during surgery. Removing the tumor can help in improving neurological symptoms and the prognosis of a brain tumor patient.
This treatment strategy uses high-energy X-rays and other particles to eliminate tumor cells. Radiation therapy can be given after surgery to kill the cancer cells that may have persisted. It can also be given along with other treatments like chemotherapy. The radiation therapy could be external wherein the source of radiation is a large machine or an implant radiation therapy where the radioactive source is directly placed in the tumor. Generally, a radiation oncologist performs this kind of treatment.
This is another type of radiation therapy that uses protons instead of X-rays to kill cancer cells. Proton therapy has been used to treat brain tumors, especially in children. It is less harmful than the usual radiation therapy as it causes less damage to the nearby healthy tissues and specifically targets the tumor. Since it causes lesser side effects, it can be given at a higher dose.
Chemotherapy for brain tumors involves using drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs are given orally or they can be injected into a muscle or bloodstream. Usually, chemotherapy is given in cycles. The doctor may also advise intrathecal chemotherapy in which drugs are directly injected into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Since chemotherapy can affect normal cells, targeted therapy may be given as an alternative. In this, the drugs are designed to specifically target the tumor’s proteins, genes, or environment. This stops the growth of tumor cells without damaging healthy cells.
Who will Treat a Brain Tumor?
For providing the best treatment for brain tumors, a multidisciplinary team will be arranged for the patient. This consists of qualified neuro-oncologists, oncology nurses, physician assistants, counselors, and rehabilitation experts so that the patient receives the best care possible both during and after brain tumor treatment.
How to choose the best treatment for my Brain Tumor?
Though several options exist, it may be difficult to decide on a treatment. The decision may be complicated by anxiety, confusion, hurry, and uncertainty. However, the decision to undergo a particular treatment is a personal choice and you should be completely comfortable with it.
Here are some tips that can help you make a decision about your brain tumor treatment
- Ask questions to your doctor to better understand the diagnosis
- Carefully evaluate the credentials of your doctor and the reputation of the hospital where you will receive your brain tumor treatment. You can browse through the list of best neuro-oncologists and top hospitals for brain tumor treatment in your area online or read reviews of patients for reference.
- Discuss the different treatment options with your doctor
- Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of each treatment
- Do your own research! Read from credible sources about brain tumors, types, stages, risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, treatments, and everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
- If you still feel unsure, you can get a second opinion from another neuro-oncologist who can provide you with more treatment options.
- Discuss with your loved ones
- Identify and consider the cost of treatment
Avail Brain Tumor Treatment in Different Countries
Getting the right treatment at the right time can save the lives of many brain tumor patients. If you feel that your area lacks adequate treatments for a brain tumor, you can even pursue treatment in another country.
Whatever may be the case, it is important you do your research well and ask your doctor about all possible treatments.