When cancer reaches the brain!
There are numerous treatments for brain tumors including surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. However, a combination of several options is often prescribed for a patient.
The selection of a treatment depends on the following factors:
In some particular cases of brain cancer, the physician has to examine the cerebrospinal fluid to make sure the cancer cells have not affected the spinal cord.
Surgical procedure: Surgery is typically considered the first treatment for brain tumors. However, there are different types and methods of brain surgeries. Prior to the surgery, all or part of the patient’s head is shaved and sometimes the tumor surgery is performed under general anesthesia.
Open brain surgery is known as craniotomy. In this surgical procedure, a portion of the cranial bone is removed temporarily to access the brain. The surgeon makes a small incision in the scalp and removes a part of the cranial bone with a cranial saw. The patient may be conscious during the removal of all or part of the tumor at the surgeon’s discretion. In such surgeries, the surgeon is set to remove the tumor without causing any damage to the healthy parts of the brain. During the surgery, the patient is asked to move his/her foot, count numbers, recite the alphabet, or tell a story. The patient’s ability to follow the commands helps the surgeon protect the important parts of the brain.
After the removal of the tumor, the surgeon covers the opened part of the skull with a bone, a metal plate, or fabric and then stitches the crack in the scalp. Sometimes it is not possible to remove a tumor without harming the healthy parts of the brain. In these cases, radiotherapy or other treatments are prescribed.
The feeling of pain and irritation is normal for several days following the surgery, which can be controlled extensively with the aid of medicine. Fatigue and weakness are also among the side effects of such surgeries, which will last for several days to several weeks depending on the patient’s physical condition.
Other common side effects of these surgeries are hydrocephalus and cerebral edema. The healthcare team controls the patient’s conditions as regards the symptoms of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) buildup or inflammation for several months following the surgery. Sometimes steroids are prescribed to reduce the inflammation. Steroids are a type of cortisone and mitigate inflammation. In some cases, secondary surgeries are recommended to drain the fluid, and sometimes the surgeon places a thin tube called a shunt in the brain hole to allow the cerebrospinal fluid to be easily drained or transferred through the tube to another part of the body where it is eventually drained. The cerebrospinal fluid is typically directed toward the abdomen or heart. Moreover, infection is another postoperative complication, which is solved by the prescription of antibiotics.