Chemotherapy is sometimes recommended for treating certain types of brain cancer, such as metastatic or recurrent brain tumors, as well as some primary brain tumors. The goals of this treatment can vary. For instance, chemotherapy can be used to slow the growth of a tumor, destroy cancerous cells that remain after surgery or alleviate symptoms associated with a large lesion that is creating pressure within the skull.
If a patient’s treatment plan for brain cancer includes chemotherapy, the specific drugs, dosages, delivery method and schedule will be determined based on the type and location of the tumor and other individual factors. Chemo can be administered orally, intravenously or directly into a cavity left after a tumor is surgically removed.
There are two main types of chemotherapy for brain cancer:
- Cytotoxic drugs – Also known as systemic chemotherapy, these medications enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to reach and destroy cancerous cells that have spread. Because cytotoxic drugs cannot distinguish between cancerous and noncancerous cells, some healthy cells are destroyed as well.
- Cytostatic drugs – This targeted therapy, which is commonly used to prevent the growth and spread of metastatic and recurrent brain tumors, can identify and attack cancerous cells while minimizing harm to healthy cells.
The multispecialty brain cancer team at Moffitt Cancer Center utilizes a complete range of the most advanced brain cancer treatments, including chemotherapy. Working together as a cohesive tumor board, these experts make individualized recommendations to improve each patient’s outcome and quality of life. Our tumor board meets regularly throughout the course of a patient’s treatment to evaluate his or her progress and make adjustments as necessary.
Moffitt is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center and a founding and active member of the National Cancer Institute’s Adult Brain Tumor Consortium. As a result of our extensive research efforts, our patients have access to many promising clinical trials, which provide them with opportunities to receive the latest brain cancer therapies while being closely monitored by a dedicated treatment team.