There are many treatment options out there. Here are several of the most commonly used to treat brain tumors.


Craniotomy – Surgery is always the best treatment for tumors that are operable. This alone will significantly improve the prognosis for long term survival. For tumors that are partially inoperable, surgery is still a good option to try and remove as much tumor as possible.


           Temodar – This is the most common chemotherapeutic first line of defense for most malignant brain tumors. It is just an oral pill. The most common treatment cycle is 5 days on, 23 days off. Your doctor will normally prescribe an anti-nausea pill that you can take one hour prior to taking this drug, to off-set this common side effect. Temodar is usually taken at night so that the patient will sleep through most side effects. Many patients stay on this pill for a couple of years. The concern for keeping a patient on something long term, though, is that the patient’s body will build up a resistance to it, making it no longer effective. This is significant if the tumor is fully resected. It seems that it would be better to just keep the patient on this pill for a short term follow-up, in case the tumor recurs. It can then be used, again, at this time. This might be a good question to ask your oncologist.   Check out the FAQ for Temodar

           Avastin – This is a newer chemotherapy that has shown a lot of success against Glioblastomas (Grade 4 and most aggressive).  It is usually given to patients that have not responded well to Temodar, or other therapies implemented.  It’s method of action is that it cuts off the blood supply to a tumor.  Malignant tumors become immortal through a process called angiogenisis, in which they are constantly making new blood vessels that will feed the tumor.  This drug, therefore, acts as an anti-angiogenic, making it successful in starving the tumor. You can read more information about Avastin here.

Radiation (Radiotherapy) – Radiation is also usually the recommended first line of defense for malignant tumors. It is controversial to use this therapy for low grade (Grade 1 or 2) tumors. Radiation can only be done one time, and the argument against doing so for a lower grade tumor is that clinical data for radiation has not been shown to make any difference in the long term outcome, and that this option should be saved for when/if the tumor upgrades, which is the tendency for astrocytomas/oligodendrogliomas.  There are several different methods of radiation that can be delivered.  You see each type broken down into detail here.

Vaccine – This is one of the more exciting treatment options that has emerged over the past several years.  This vaccine is created from a patient’s own tumor cells.  They are cultivated in a lab, combining the tumor cells with the patient’s white blood cells, to create the vaccine.  The patient then receives several innoculations over a period of time.  The idea is that the vaccine will boost the body’s immune system by helping it to recognize the tumor cells that have been injected back into their bodies, as foreign invaders.  Because the vaccine is made from the original tumor cells, the body will then attack any remaining cells, killing the cancer.  The important thing that many patients don’t understand with this protocol, is that you must have surgery at a hospital that is involved in this clinical trial, so they can take tumor tissue and send it to the lab for cultivation.  You cannot have surgery somewhere else and then have them send the tissue to these hospitals that are doing the vaccine.  If you want to use this as an option, make sure you find out which hospitals are doing it, before making your decision of where to get treated.  Here is some more information about this treatment.  My neurosurgeon, Dr. Linda Liau, was one of the pioneers in creating this novel vaccine.  There is a very inspiring video of a patient who received the vaccine.  It’s an amazing story that most certainly lives up to it’s title:  Beating the Odds

Clinical Trials – There are always on-going clinical trials that are looking to recruit new patients.  This is most often something that is pursued for a patient because all other treatment options have been exhausted.  What a clinical trial is ,essentially, is a new treatment that has not yet been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).  These trials are funded by the company that has created the drug/treatment, and people are enrolled to test the effectiveness and any safety issues that may result with the treatment.  Every treatment available starts out in a clinical trial before gaining approval by the FDA to be used for standard treatment.  This is the best website that I have found to keep up on the latest clinical trials out there.  It is a lot of information to sort through, but it’s obviously worth the time and effort to do it.  It’s also rather exciting to see all of the research that is going on, and the successes that are being had, as a result.