Surgery is often the first step when treating a brain tumor. Your neurosurgeon’s goal will be to remove as much of the tumor as possible without affecting normal brain function. Sometimes it is possible to remove the entire tumor. Other times, in cases where the tumor has spread to nearby tissue, surgery allows your team to reduce the amount of tumor left behind. Those remaining pieces of tumor will then be treated through approaches such as radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery may also relieve some of the physical symptoms you are experiencing from your tumor, including headaches, dizziness, nausea and vision issues.
Chemotherapy drugs are given orally in the form of pills or intravenously. Some chemotherapy drugs may not be able to reach the brain, however. Certain types of chemotherapy can be infused into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) through either the brain or spinal cord. These are typically delivered through a small catheter inserted into a specific part of the skull. Chemotherapy often accompanies other forms of treatment.
For some brain tumors, targeted medication therapies are available to either shrink the tumor or halt its growth, giving doctors more time to utilize other therapies to attack the tumor. These targeted medications are designed to disrupt the cell changes that cause specific types of brain tumors, such as certain types of gliomas.
Gamma Knife radiosurgery allows our neuroscience team to treat brain tumors without performing an invasive procedure that requires anesthesia and incisions. The procedure uses a frame and helmet that, along with imaging, allows the Gamma Knife system to target the precise areas of your brain that require treatment, limiting the rest of your body’s exposure and delivering the most concentrated dosage. The radiation in the Gamma Knife damages the tumor cells and keeps them from reproducing further. The radiation can also shrink the tumor over time. This treatment is particularly effective for tumors thought to be too deep-seated for traditional surgery.
Also known as stereotactic body radiation therapy, (SBRT), this treatment is similar to the Gamma Knife in that it targets tumors in very precise areas of the body while limiting the effects of radiation on your otherwise healthy tissue. SBRT is typically used to treat tumors outside of the brain and spine. Learn more about our services by visiting our Radiation Oncology website.