Brainstem Glioma Treatment- Cancer/Oncology
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Doctors: Oncologist, Neurosurgeon
What is brainstem glioma?
Brainstem gliomas occur in the brain stem. They account for around 20% of all pediatric primary brain tumors. On the other hand, they account for less than 2% of all adult gliomas.
Treatment options for brainstem gliomas may include radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery.
- Radiation therapy: It is the most common treatment for brainstem gliomas. Radiation therapy helps to improve or stabilize the patient's condition. It involves use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy tumor cells. This type of therapy is given to the patient with significant and progressive neurologic symptoms. As radiation therapy can affect the development of a child’s brain, generally chemotherapy is used to shrink the size of the tumor in young children to either avoid or reduce the requirement of radiation therapy. Side effects from radiation therapy might comprise fatigue, mild skin reactions, upset stomach, and loose bowel movements. Most of the side effects go away once the treatment is completed.
- Chemotherapy: During chemotherapy, drugs are used to kill tumor cells. Chemotherapy is given either intravenously or orally. Chemotherapy is generally given as a combination with other form of therapy. Depending on the patient’s condition, either one drug or combination of multiple drugs may be given during chemotherapy. The side effects of this therapy include fatigue, risk of infection, nausea and vomiting, hair loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Most of the side effects go away once the treatment is completed.
- Surgery: Surgery is done in combination with radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or both. During surgery, tumor as well as tissue surrounding it is removed. Surgery is only used when the tumor looks focal on an MRI scan. Surgery might be beneficial to improve symptoms.