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Treatment

  • Early treatment often improves the likelihood of a good outcome. Treatment depends on the size and type of tumor and your general health. Goals of treatment may be to stop the progression of the tumor, relieve symptoms and improve brain function or comfort.

    Surgery

    Surgery is performed by a neurosurgeon, and is often needed for most primary brain tumors. Some tumors may be completely removed. Those that are deep inside the brain or that enter brain tissue may be debulked instead of removed. Debulking is a procedure to reduce the tumor's size.

    Tumors can be hard to remove completely by surgery alone. This is because the tumor invades surrounding brain tissue much like roots from a plant spread through soil. When the tumor cannot be removed, surgery may still help reduce pressure and relieve symptoms. 

    Brain mapping with functional MRI or other tests will be determined and ordered by the neurosurgeon. 

    Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy (LITT) may be used based on recommendation by the neurosurgeon. 

    Radiation therapy

    A radiation oncologist will determine the best type of radiation treatment. Radiation therapy is used for certain tumors. Sometimes, radiation is the only treatment needed. It may also be used to:

    • Shrink a tumor as much as possible before surgery
    • Help prevent the tumor from coming back after surgery or chemotherapy
    • Relieve symptoms caused by a tumor
    • Treat cancers that cannot be removed with surgery.

    Radiation therapy is typically given over many weeks with low-dose daily treatments.

    Stereotactic radiosurgery

    Stereotactic radiosurgery and radiotherapy is available for people who have brain tumors. This treatment targets and treats a specific, abnormal area without harming surrounding tissue. The word “stereotactic” describes the process used to find a single point for treatment. “Radiosurgery” refers to the process of focusing high-power energy on a small, defined area of treatment. It is not a traditional surgical procedure. Radiosurgery is usually administered in one to five sessions.

    Radiosurgery may be used to treat patients who have the following conditions:

    • recurrent brain tumors that have been treated with regular radiation therapy
    • acoustic neuromas
    • pituitary tumors
    • meningiomas
    • pineal region tumors
    • selected gliomas.

    Allina Health has invested in the most current technology in the treatment of brain and spine tumors. Radiation therapies include a Varian™ Trilogy linear accelerator and Nasseff CyberKnife®. 

    Chemotherapy

    Chemotherapy, or cancer-killing drugs, may be used with surgery or radiation treatment. Chemotherapy may be used to:

    • control the cancer
    • stop the progression of the tumor
    • prevent the cancer from spreading
    • relieve symptoms the cancer may be causing.

    Chemotherapy drugs may be given in a number of different ways, including injections or pills. Because these medicines travel through the blood to the entire body, chemotherapy is described as a body-wide treatment.

    New treatment options

    The rapidly changing field of oncology care offers many opportunities and challenges. Patients may choose to participate in research programs that could help advance their care and the care of other patients. Patients who choose to enroll in selected clinical trials have their health and safety closely monitored by a team of health care professionals. Learn more about available clinical trials. 

  • Source: Virginia Piper Cancer Institute and John Nasseff Neuroscience Institute
    Reviewed by: John E. Trusheim, MD, medical director of neuro-oncology, Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
    First published: 06/28/2016
    Last reviewed: 06/01/2016

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