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How Is a Brain Tumor Treated?

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rayif Rashid Kanth

2 min read

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The primary call to treatment for a brain tumor (cancerous or non-cancerous masses of abnormal cells in the brain and/or spinal cord) is removing it through surgery. However, whether a tumor is operable or not depends largely upon its location. Here we will look at some common and relatively newer brain tumor treatments, along with a few rehabilitation suggestions.


Based on your condition, your healthcare provider can decide the appropriate treatment option for the brain tumor. Treatment options include:

1. Surgery:

Tumors located in an accessible place are extracted fully, whereas a tumor that has grown over a sensitive area and/or is deeply rooted in the surrounding tissue is removed as much as possible without causing any permanent damage. Partial removal can also help relieve symptoms in many cases.

Benign tumors are generally easier to extract due to clearly defined borders and shallow roots, as compared to cancerous or malignant tumors, whose irregular edges anchor themselves deeper into brain tissue.

However, surgery carries a risk of bleeding and infection, along with possible damage to a particular function, such as vision and speech, depending upon the tumor’s location.

2. Chemotherapy:

Given either orally or through an intravenous injection, chemotherapy drugs gradually cause the abnormal tumorous cells to shrink and die by disrupting their rapid division process. Since it also affects healthy cells, the therapy is usually administered in regular cycles with rest periods to allow cell regrowth.

However, chemotherapy is generally reserved for advanced, malignant, inflammation-causing gliomas and is not commonly employed for benign tumors. Side-effects include nausea, vomiting, and gradual hair loss.

3. Radiation Therapy:

Tumors are destroyed through high energy x-ray beams, with common side-effects being scalp irritation, headaches, fatigue, and memory loss. Radiation therapy can be administered in the following ways:

  • External Beam Radiation: A machine emits radiations targeted either at the specific tumor location, or the entire brain (whole-brain radiation). However, whole-brain radiation is generally used to treat a secondary tumor that spreads from another part of the body and forms multiple tumors in the brain.
  • Brachytherapy: Placing a radiation device inside the body close to the tumor. However, it is rarely used as exposing other body parts to radiation can increase the risk of impairing other bodily functions.
  • Proton Therapy: This relatively newer therapy may be useful for removing tumors over, or very close to, sensitive brain areas with minimal side-effects as compared to x-ray therapy. It can be given both externally and internally.

Either radiation or chemotherapy may sometimes be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells.

4. Radiosurgery:

A more targeted form of radiotherapy, radiosurgery focuses multiple radiation beams into one highly-focused, powerful radiation to target and kill only the small area where the tumor is located. It is an outpatient procedure (not requiring a hospital stay) that generally requires only one sitting.

5. Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy/Laser Ablation:

cancerous or benign tumorous cells are directly exposed to strong, targeted heat waves from a probe inserted into the brain via a small hole in the skull and attached to an MRI machine to help guide the surgeon. This heats up and destroys tumors completely from inside out.

6. Targeted Drug Therapy:

The least invasive brain tumor treatment, certain drugs are prescribed that control common brain tumor side effects and target and block the specific abnormalities of cancerous cells, causing them to gradually die.

Some common symptoms that are prevented or controlled by medication include swelling and fluid buildup around the tumor, and seizures.


Most brain tumors form over or spread to brain areas responsible for speech, vision, movement and thinking. Increased pressure on these areas by the tumor can affect these functions.

This is why most patients require Physical Therapy (to regain muscle strength or movement), Speech Therapy (to improve speech difficulties), and Occupational Therapy (to relearn normal daily activities) following surgery.

Children with brain tumors may also require rehabilitatory tutoring to help cope with memory and thinking changes after tumor removal.


Brain tumors can regrow, either with the same remnant cells or as different tumors in the same location despite surgery or other treatment therapies. However, as to when it may recur depends upon the type of tumor.

Primary benign tumors recur less often than secondary ones. Regular follow-ups every 3-6 months can help detect the tumors recurrence.

A brain tumor diagnosis can be overwhelming. However, learning what you can about the condition, involving your close family and friends, and talking to someone who has previously had, or has been recently diagnosed can help provide support and make you feel more in control of the situation.

You can also book an appointment with a top Neurologist in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939  for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your gestational needs.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rayif Rashid Kanth
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rayif Rashid Kanth - Author Dr. Rayif Rashid Kanth is a highly skilled neurosurgeon with a specialization in minimally invasive brain and spine surgery. With over 15 years of experience and a reputation for excellence, Dr. Kanth is a leader in his field.

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