The treatment chosen for a brain tumor patient depends on a wide range of factors, such as the tumor’s type, location and growth, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. As there are more than 120 types of tumors that can develop in the brain and central nervous system, treatment plans can vary greatly from patient to patient.
Types of treatment used for brain tumors
Several types of treatment may be used to treat a brain tumor. Treatment options include:
- Surgery – Neurosurgeons remove as much of the tumor as possible.
- Radiation therapy – High-energy rays are delivered to the tumor while sparing gray matter.
- Chemotherapy – Some chemotherapy medications can be delivered directly into the cerebrospinal fluid to treat a brain tumor.
- Targeted therapy – Medications target specific genes or proteins that trigger tumor growth.
- Immunotherapy – This promising approach helps to equip the immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.
Common treatment approaches
Again, it is important to keep in mind that brain tumor treatment is individualized and can vary greatly. However, in many cases, the general goal of treatment is to remove as much of the tumor as possible through surgical resection; destroy any cancerous cells with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or other treatments; and reduce symptoms and improve quality of life with supportive care and other therapies.
Treating malignant vs. benign brain tumors
Not all brain tumors are malignant (cancerous) – some brain tumors are benign (noncancerous). Most benign brain tumors are slow growing and don’t invade surrounding tissue or spread to other areas. A benign tumor can still be life-threatening, however, if it is compressing brain tissue or other structures in the skull like ventricles and nerves.
Treatment for a benign brain tumor is similar to that of a malignant tumor. It is less common, however, for chemotherapy to be used for a benign tumor. Surgical resection and radiation therapy are typical treatments for benign tumors.
Moffitt’s approach to brain tumor treatment
Moffitt’s Neuro-Oncology Program takes a comprehensive approach to brain tumor treatment. Each patient’s case is reviewed by our multispecialty team, which comprises physicians in all areas of care in a single, convenient location. The team collaborates to develop individualized treatment plans for every patient. And, as a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt is at the forefront of research and houses a robust clinical trials program, making the most innovative therapies available to our patients as soon as possible.