Brain Tumor Treatment

Brain tumors are abnormal growth or cancers within the brain. Earlier having a brain tumor meant awaiting certain death. These days with advancement of therapy for brain tumors many can look forward to longer life spans with the diagnosis of brain tumors.Treatment for brain tumors includes surgery (minimally invasive), chemotherapy with anticancer drugs and radiation therapy.

I. Brain tumor surgery: Before the surgery the scalp area is cleaned and shaved. The scalp is cleansed with an antiseptic lotion before the operation. Detailed images of the tumor are obtained beforehand using CT scans and MRI scans of the head. The operation in most cases is performed under general anesthesia wherein the patient is rendered unconscious. 

Steps involved:

  • The surgeon makes an incision over the scalp. A hole is drilled into the skull. Sometimes a bone flap is lifted to expose a larger area of the brain for operation. In some cases the surgeon makes a smaller hole and inserts a tube with a light and camera on the tip. This is called an endoscope. The surgery will be done with tools placed through the endoscope. MRI or CT can help guide the doctor to the proper place in the brain. The tools are used to remove the tumor. This is a minimally invasive brain tumor surgery. 
  • The tumor may be removed manually or may be removed using the newer techniques such as lasers, stereotactic computers, cryosurgery, thermal killing machines, ultrasound, radiosurgery, the Gamma Knife, the X-Knife, photo irradiation, blood: brain barrier disruption, boron neutron capture, etc.
  • After the surgery the operative area is suctioned gently to remove the excess fluid and collected blood. A tiny tube is placed within the suture to drain off the excess fluid. The bone flap is sewn back using small metal plates, sutures, or wires. The skin is sutured and the area is bandaged.

II.Chemotherapy: These are anticancer medications required in brain cancers. Anticancer drugs may be given as injections and sometimes as tablets or capsules. Chemotherapy may be given during and after radiation therapy with or without surgery. Common side effects of anticancer drugs include nausea, vomiting, gastrointestinal upset, anemia, bleeding tendencies, propensity for infections, hair loss, appetite loss, mouth ulcers, weakness etc.

III. Radiation therapy: This therapy uses high energy x-rays, gamma ray, or protons beams to kills brain tumor cells. Radiation therapy usually follows surgery. The radiation kills the remaining tumors cells after surgery. External radiation therapy involves delivering radiation using large X ray like machines of frequent and regular visits to the hospital.

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