Brain cancer treatment is carried out based on several factors, namely the patient’s age and general health condition, as well as the location, size and type of tumor. Options for action that can be done to treat brain cancer, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination.
This procedure aims to remove as much of the tumor as possible and relieve symptoms of brain cancer. Generally, surgery is performed to help other therapies succeed. There are several methods of brain cancer surgery, including:
Craniotomy. The doctor will split the bone from the skull at the location of the tumor that is known from the scan. After the tumor is removed, the pieces of bone will be reattached using a small metal briquette shield.
Neuroendoscopy. In this procedure, the tumor is removed through a small hole made in the head frame.
Surgery through the nose (transsphenoidal surgery). This operation is performed to remove the tumor in the pituitary gland, without performing head surgery. In transsphenoidal surgery, the doctor will insert a camera tube through the patient’s nose to cut and remove the tumor.
In this therapy, anticancer drugs are inserted into the body to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be carried out after surgery to prevent tumors from coming back, and to extend the life expectancy of the patient.
In chemotherapy, drugs that can be used are temozolomide or vincristine. For pediatric patients, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, cisplatin, etoposide, carboplatin, or methotrexate may be given. These drugs can be given alone or in combination.
Chemotherapy can be given in the form of tablets or capsules that are taken by mouth, injections in brain and spinal fluids, and injections into veins. Chemotherapy is carried out in a cycle consisting of drug administration and rest periods. Each cycle usually lasts several weeks.
Chemotherapy can cause side effects in the form of nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, loss of appetite, hair loss, skin sensitivity to sunlight, and the body feeling weak or tired. In addition, chemotherapy can also increase the risk of infection.
In radiotherapy, high-energy rays are directed at the location of the tumor to stop the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells. Radiotherapy is used to remove tumors that cannot be surgically removed, and reduce the risk of tumors coming back. Radiotherapy is carried out in a series of therapies, for 3-7 weeks.
Radiotherapy can be done from the outside (externally) aimed directly at the tumor, or using a radioactive capsule that is placed in the tumor (internal). Similar to chemotherapy, radiotherapy also has some side effects. These include hair loss, body fatigue, and feeling unwell.
Apart from these two radiotherapy, there is a technique called stereotactic radiosurgery. With this therapy, the tumor can be destroyed without dissecting the skull. The doctor will use the help of a CT scan or MRI to determine the position of the tumor. Next, the tumor is cut using a gamma knife or cyber knife. This type of radiotherapy has fewer complications than regular surgery, with a faster recovery time.
Brain cancer can grow in several parts of the brain that control the ability to move, speak, vision, or think processes. Therefore, post-treatment physiotherapy is needed in case of impaired bodily functions. Physiotherapy that can be done includes physical therapy to restore movement function or muscle strength, occupational therapy to help patients carry out normal activities, and talk therapy for patients who have speech disorders.
The role of family and friends is very important in helping sufferers heal. In addition to friends and family, support can also be obtained from counselors, social workers, or religious leaders to help discuss what sufferers feel and worry about.