Treatment options depend on the type of tumour, size, location and the patient’s general health. Therapy may also be given to reduce the risk of the tumour coming back.
Treatment options include:
SurgeryIn most cases, special techniques and instruments are used to remove as much tumour as possible with the least harm to the brain. The tumour can be entirely or partially removed, depending on its size, location and the risks involved.
A computerised navigation system is used to aid the neurosurgeon to localise the tumour and navigatecritical areas of the brain during surgery.
One procedure is the awake craniotomy, performed while the patient is conscious. It reduces the risk of neurological damage for tumours located in critical brain regions.
The risks of surgery may include infection, bleeding, seizures, paralysis and coma.
Radiation therapyHigh-energy beams such as x-rays are used to destroy the tumour.
Radiation therapy can be external (conventional radiation) or internal (brachytherapy). For primary cancerous brain tumours that cannot be completely removed, surgery may be followed by external beam radiation over 2 to 6 weeks to destroy the remaining tumour cells.
RadiosurgeryMultiple precision radiation beams are focused on a small area of the tumour to shrink it or stop it from growing. Radiosurgery is non-invasive and painless, and usually done as an outpatient procedure.
ChemotherapyDrugs are administered in pill form or intravenously to destroy tumour cells.
Targeted drug therapySpecic abnormalities within the tumour cells are destroyed by drugs to prevent cancer cells from dividing.The treatments for brain tumours and brain cancer can be used on their own or in combination. In some cases, treatment may not be required. The tumour may simply be left alone and closely monitored.
Brain tumour treatment involves a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuroradiologist, neuropathologists, oncologists, nurse clinicians and allied health professionals (therapists, social workers, psychologists, dieticians).
Side Effects of Treatment
Side effects can range from fatigue, headaches and scalp irritation for radiation therapy. Chemotherapy patientsmay experience nausea and hair loss, while those undergoing radiosurgery may have headaches and nausea.
Surgery for a tumour that is close to a nerve, or located in a critical or sensitive area of the brain may affect body functions such as sight, speech and movement.
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