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Brain Disorders | Brain Tumours | Hydrocephalus | Pituitary Brain Tumours | Trigeminal Neuralgia

Treatment Options for Brain Tumours

Overview

How are adult brain Tumours treated?

Different types of treatment are available for patients with adult brain tumour. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Before starting treatment, patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Three types of standard treatment are used.

Craniotomy Surgery

Surgery is used, when possible, to treat adult brain tumour. Please refer to the “Craniotomy” information PDF document.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells. There are two types of radiation therapy. External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer. Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

 

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Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). A dissolving wafer may be used to deliver an anticancer drug directly into the brain tumour site after the tumour has been removed by surgery. The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.

 

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Other types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

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New methods of delivering radiation therapy

Radiosensitizers: Drugs that make tumour cells more sensitive to radiation. Combining radiation with radiosensitizers may kill more tumour cells.

Hyperfractionation: Radiation therapy given in smaller-than-usual doses two or three times a day instead of once a day.

Stereotactic radiosurgery: A radiation therapy technique that delivers radiation directly to the tumour with less damage to healthy tissue. The doctor uses a CT scan or MRI to find the exact location of the tumour. A rigid head frame is attached to the skull and high - dose radiation is directed to the tumour through openings in the head frame, reducing the amount of radiation given to normal brain tissue. This procedure does not involve surgery. This is also called stereotactic radiosurgery and gamma knife therapy.

How are metastatic brain Tumours treated?

Tumours that have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body are usually treated with radiation therapy and/or surgery. Chemotherapy may be used if the primary tumour is the kind that responds well to chemotherapy. Clinical trials are under way to study new treatments.

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