There are a number of different treatments for non-cancerous brain tumours. Some people only need repeated scans to monitor the tumour and assess any growth. This is usually the case when a tumour is found by chance. Some people will need surgery, particularly if they have severe or progressive symptoms, but sometimes non-surgical treatments are an option. A group of different specialists called a multidisciplinary team (MDT) will be involved in your care. They will recommend what they think is the best treatment option for you, but the final decision will be yours. Before visiting the hospital to discuss your treatment options, you may find it useful to write a list of questions you’d like to ask. For example, you may want to find out the advantages and disadvantages of particular treatments.
SurgerySurgery is the main treatment for non-cancerous brain tumours. The aim is to remove as much of the tumour as safely as possible without damaging the surrounding brain tissue. In most cases, a procedure called a craniotomy will be performed. Most operations are carried out under a general anesthetic, which means you’ll be unconscious during the procedure. But in some cases you may need to be conscious and responsive, in which case a local anesthetic will be used. An area of your scalp will be shaved and a section of skull cut out as a flap to reveal the brain and tumor underneath. The surgeon will remove the tumor and fix the bone flap back into place with metal screws. The skin is closed with either sutures or staples. If it isn’t possible to remove the entire tumor, you may need further treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
RadiosurgerySome tumors are located deep inside the brain and are difficult to remove without damaging surrounding tissue. In these cases, a special type of radiotherapy called stereotactic radiosurgery may be used. During radiosurgery, tiny beams of high-energy radiation are focused on the tumor to kill the abnormal cells. Treatment consists of one session, recovery is quick, and an overnight stay in hospital isn’t usually needed. Radiosurgery is only suitable for some people, based on the characteristics, locations and size of their tumor.
Chemotherapy and radiotherapyConventional chemotherapy is occasionally used to shrink non-cancerous brain tumors or kill any cells left behind after surgery. Radiotherapy involves using controlled doses of high-energy radiation, usually X-rays, to kill the tumor cells. Chemotherapy is less frequently used to treat non-cancerous brain tumors. It’s a powerful medication that kills tumor cells, and can be given as a tablet, injection or drip. Side effects of these treatments can include tiredness, hair loss, nausea, and reddening of your skin.
Medication to treat symptomsYou may also be given medication to help treat some of your symptoms before or after surgery, including:
- anti-convulsants to prevent epileptic seizures
- corticosteroids to reduce swelling around the tumor, which can relieve some of your symptoms and make surgery easier
- painkillers to treat headaches
- anti-emetics to prevent vomiting
(original article located on nhs.uk)