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What are the Different Types of Brain Cancer Treatment?

K.C. Bruning
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are usually several factors that are considered when choosing the correct brain cancer treatment, including the age of the patient, medical history, the size of the tumor, and its location. Surgery is the most common way to treat cancer in the brain. Either after or in place of surgery, many patients will also undergo radiation or chemotherapy. Other treatments can include the administration of anticonvulsant or steroid drugs. Some patients may also need to have fluid drained from the brain with the aid of a tool called a shunt.

Over the course of a single surgery, both diagnosis and brain cancer treatment can be performed. If a doctor suspects that a patient has a brain tumor, it may only be possible to make a firm diagnosis by cutting away part of the skull and physically accessing the brain. If a tumor is found, then the surgeon will usually proceed to remove the mass. Sometimes the tumor cannot be removed, in which case the surgeon will usually take a tissue sample to examine more closely.

If the tumor is determined to be benign, surgery may be all the brain cancer treatment that is necessary. A malignant tumor will require further treatment as the cancer will have either started to spread to or originated from other parts of the body. If this should happen, a patient will typically undergo either radiation or chemotherapy, depending on the severity of the cancer. Radiation can also be performed to shrink a tumor if the patient is not eligible for brain surgery.

Brain cancer treatment also usually includes several other procedures before the start of surgery. Some patients may take steroid drugs in order to reduce swelling in the brain. A doctor may also prescribe an anticonvulsant medication if the patient has seizures or if there appears to be a risk of them happening. Some patients may also have an excess of fluid accumulating in the brain area that needs to be drained with a shunt, which is a slender plastic tube. One end of the shunt is placed in the brain, while the other is threaded to another body part where the fluid can be safely drained and eventually eliminated.

There are many ways that cancer can grow in the brain. If it first begins in the brain, the growths are known as primary brain tumors. More often, brain tumors are metastatic, which means that they have spread to the brain from other parts of the body. The most common types of cancer that move to the brain are of the breast, lung, and colon, in addition to melanoma.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including WiseGeek. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
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K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
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