Brain Tumors - What are my options?
Seth Joseffer, M.D., F.A.C.S.
What Are my Options?
There are three main types of treatment for brain tumors: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. With surgery, all or part of the tumor can be removed. Whether it can be removed completely depends on its location. A tumor can often be removed safely provided the following two criteria exist. First, the tumor has not grown around critical structures, such as the arteries supplying blood to the brain. Second, has not infiltrated into areas of the brain that are important for functions such as speech or movement.
Radiation therapy involves using a machine that directs a beam of radiation or destructive energy at the tumor, which damages the tumor causing it to shrink or to stop growing. Chemotherapy involves the use of medications that can cause the tumor to shrink. There are many types of chemotherapy. Newer treatments actually use the body’s own immune system or hormonal system to shrink tumors with better results and less side effects than people experienced with some of the older treatments.
What are my Chances of Surviving Brain Cancer?
The results of treatment for each person are different. The type of tumor and its location play the greatest role in whether treatment will be successful. Tests such as MRI will usually give us a reasonable idea about what type of tumor we are dealing with, but we usually don’t know for certain until either all or part of the tumor has been removed and sent to the pathology lab for evaluation. As we get more information from the tests and biopsies, we are able to provide more information about how well each specific tumor will respond to treatment.
There is hope for people with brain tumors. Doctors and scientists are continually developing new treatments. These treatments will continue to improve our success in treating patients with brain tumors. Rest assured you are not in this alone. Your team consists of your surgeon, oncologist, radiation doctor and your primary care physician. This medical team, combined with your family and friends, will be with you every step of the way.