Treatments for brain tumours

The specialist clinicians involved in diagnosing and advising on treatment will suggest different options for different patients, depending on tumour type, low or high-grade, location of the tumour in the brain, age and health of patient. 

Patient treatment options are usually discussed within an MDT (multi-disciplinary team) meeting. This allows for analysis from a range of experts in neurology, neuro-oncology and neurosurgery in order to establish the best options for each patient.

The best treatment and care pathways are based on the most recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

  • Surgery for brain tumours

    Neurosurgery is an operation on the brain. This is usually the first step in the treatment for most types of brain tumours and is often called a resection, and can be full or partial. The aim is to remove as much of the tumour as possible whilst avoiding any damage to other parts of the brain.

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  • Radiotherapy

    Radiotherapy for brain tumours is the use of high-energy radiation to destroy cancer cells. It is usually delivered using a large machine outside the body, with beams of radiation being targeted as closely as possible to the exact shape of the tumour: known as ‘external beam radiotherapy’ (EBRT).

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  • Chemotherapy for brain tumours

    Chemotherapy consists of drugs, most commonly taken either in tablet form or as a liquid infused into the veins during a hospital visit. Chemotherapy can be used alone to treat some types of brain tumour, but is more commonly prescribed after surgery and/or radiotherapy has reduced the tumour size.

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  • Steroids for brain tumours

    Steroids are commonly given to reduce and prevent inflammation around a brain tumour, particularly after surgery or during radiotherapy. The inflammation causes oedema, which is when plasma-like fluid builds up in the spaces between brain cells.

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  • Immunotherapy for brain tumours

    Immunotherapy stimulates the body’s natural immune system to destroy cancer cells. As yet, there is no proven curative immunotherapy treatment for brain tumours, but many researchers are convinced this has to be a key weapon of choice for this determined battle against brain cancer.

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  • Ketogenic Diet for brain tumours

    A ketogenic diet consists of low carbohydrate, moderate protein and high levels of fat. It is not a proven treatment for brain tumours. Research is underway to clarify whether it might make other treatments more effective, but more evidence is needed before reliable conclusions can be drawn.

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