Chemotherapy for Brain Tumors
by Michael Jubinville, MPH
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. They enter the bloodstream and travel through the body. It may be used:
Chemotherapy is most often given through an IV. It's done in cycles over a set period. But, most can't get to the brain because of the blood brain barrier (BBB). The BBB protects the brain from harm. It can make getting medicines harder.
Other methods to get chemotherapy:
There are many kinds of chemotherapy drugs. The choice will be based on the type of tumor and where it's found. Chemotherapy drugs from brain tumors may include:
Side Effects and Management
Chemotherapy causes a range of health problems. The most common are:
There are many ways to manage these problems. Medicines and lifestyle changes are the most common. In some cases, the cycles may be changed to lower the chances of serious problems. Talk to your healthcare team as soon as these appear so they can be better controlled.
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Chemotherapy for adult brain and spinal cord tumors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/treating/chemotherapy.html. Updated November 8, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Meningioma. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116926/Meningioma . Updated January 19, 2017. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Overview of intracranial tumors. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic-disorders/intracranial-and-spinal-tumors/overview-of-intracranial-tumors. Updated June 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/brain/patient/adult-brain-treatment-pdq#section/_102. Updated July 5, 2018. Accessed August 10, 2018.
Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 8/10/2018
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