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Brain tumour treatment

If you are diagnosed with a brain tumour, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you.

Decisions about treatment will be based on your tumour, your health and your needs and preferences.

You may be referred to specialists including:

  • an oncologist (cancer specialist)
  • neurologist (brain specialist)
  • neurosurgeon (brain surgeon).

Brain tumour treatment options

Suggestions for treatment will be based on:

  • your age, health and medical history
  • the type, location and size of the tumour
  • how fast the tumour is growing, and how likely it is to spread or recur
  • your symptoms
  • how you may react to different therapies.

The main treatments for brain tumours are:

If you have headaches or seizures you may be given medication to manage them.

In addition to standard treatments, doctors may suggest you consider taking part in a clinical trial. Clinical trials are research studies to test new treatments. Read more about clinical trials on the Cure Brain Cancer website.

Talk to your doctor about all options, their side effects and how to manage them.

For information about support options for you, your family and your carers, go to Cancer Council support information or call their helpline on 13 11 20.

Surgery

Surgery for brain tumours aims to remove as much of the tumour as possible while minimising damage to healthy parts of the brain.

Sometimes the tumour may not be able to be removed, or some of it may be left behind, because it’s too close to important areas of your brain.

Surgery may also be necessary to:

  • relieve pressure on your brain
  • reduce the size of the tumour to make it easier to be treated with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy

Radiotherapy involves treatment with X-rays to destroy the tumour or delay its growth.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells.

It may be used to kill cells remaining after surgery, to slow your tumour’s growth, or to minimise your symptoms.

It usually follows surgery and can be given in combination with radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy drugs for brain cancer are usually either swallowed, or given through a drip inserted into your vein (intravenously).

Palliative care

Palliative care is the name given to treatment that aims to manage your symptoms and make you as comfortable as possible, without trying to cure your cancer. Palliative care is often given when cancer has reached an advanced stage, but it can also be used at other stages of the illness.

Last reviewed: July 2017

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