Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

Your chances of developing a brain tumor are small. But if a tumor develops, rapid treatment from a highly skilled neurosurgeon influences your long-term outcome.

Our board-certified neurosurgeon, Richard B. Kim, MD, has extensive experience using advanced technologies and innovative medications to treat brain tumors, giving you exceptional care that improves your prognosis.

Call us any time you have a question or you experience symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, memory problems, or loss of vision. In the meantime, here’s a rundown about the types of brain tumors and treatments.

Types of brain tumors

Primary brain tumors originate in or around your brain, arising from neurons, non-neuron brain cells, blood vessels, and tissues surrounding your brain. These tumors can be malignant or benign.

Metastatic brain tumors begin as a tumor somewhere else in your body. Then that cancer metastasizes to your brain. Melanoma, lung cancer, and breast cancer frequently spread to the brain.

These are the two of the most common brain tumors:

Meningiomas

Meningiomas, the most common brain tumors in adults, begin in the tissues surrounding your brain. These tumors are usually benign, but can cause serious symptoms as they grow large enough to push against your brain.

Gliomas

Gliomas account for 78% of all malignant brain tumors. These tumors begin in glial cells, which are non-neuron brain cells that do things like support neuron communication, repair damage, produce cerebrospinal fluid, and remove pathogens.

Of the different types of gliomas, the most common tumor is glioblastoma, an aggressive and fast-growing tumor.

Treatment options for brain tumors

The type of tumor, its grade, your age, and your overall health all factor into treatment decisions for your tumor. We carefully customized each person’s treatment, choosing from among options such as:

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids don’t treat the tumor, but we may prescribe them to reduce the fluids that build up around tumors and to provide temporary relief from brain tumor symptoms.

Surgery

Whenever possible, the first step is to surgically remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging essential brain structures. Surgery may completely remove the tumor, but partial removal is also beneficial. Reducing the size of the tumor may diminish your symptoms and improve the success of radiation therapy.

During a craniotomy, we remove part of the skull, excise the tumor, and then replace the skull. Depending on the location of the tumor, we may be able to perform a minimally invasive procedure by inserting an endoscope through your nose.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is effective for some types of brain tumors, but not all. Before recommending chemotherapy, we talk with you about your potential risks and benefits. 

When chemotherapy is appropriate, you may receive IV or oral medications. We may also recommend another option: a wafer that we implant at the site of the tumor. The wafer then releases chemotherapy medications into the tumor.

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy kills the tumor cells remaining in your brain after surgery. We may also recommend radiation therapy for your primary treatment if we can’t safely perform surgery.

Radiation destroys the DNA inside all the cells it encounters, including healthy brain tissues that may lie in the path of the radiation beams. 

Healthy brain cells, however, recover more quickly than cancer cells. With a series of radiation treatments, we can eliminate the cancer while giving healthy cells time to recover.

Proton therapy

Proton therapy is like radiation therapy except it uses high-energy protons rather than X-rays to destroy the tumor.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

Stereotactic radiosurgery is not a surgical procedure; it’s a type of radiation treatment. It’s called radiosurgery because the radiation beams are so tightly focused that they target the tumor with surgical precision. 

We specialize in a type of stereotactic radiosurgery called Gamma Knife®, which sends out hundreds of radiation beams from all around your head.

Each beam has a low intensity, but when they converge on the tumor, their cumulative effect is a high dose of radiation. With specialized computer imaging, the beams follow the shape of the tumor, treating the entire mass while causing minimal damage to healthy brain tissues.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy uses advanced medications to block brain tumors from growing or spreading. These medications target the genes, proteins, and blood supply needed for cancer cells to thrive.

After running tests to identify the genes and proteins in your particular tumor, we can determine if we have medications that target your tumor’s characteristics.

Tumor-treating fields

We place electrodes on your head to create an electrical field, also called a tumor-treating field. The electrical field interferes with the tumor’s ability to grow.

If you have a brain tumor, you want it taken care of as quickly as possible by an expert like Dr. Kim. His goal is to treat your tumor and get you back to living a full life. To schedule an appointment, call our office or use the online booking feature today.

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