Brain Tumour Treatment Options in India:
While the word ‘cancer’ is petrifying, hearing the words ‘brain tumour’ can send chills down one’s spine. However, the chances of a person developing brain cancer in his/her lifetime is less than 1 % and not all brain tumours are fatal. Yes, you read that perfectly right. Brain tumours can be either benign or malignant and can originate within the brain tissue (primary brain tumours) or affect the brain secondarily due to metastasising cells from other tumours in the body. Brain tumour treatment in India is also dependent upon these factors. However, options for brain tumour treatment usually include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Brain tumour can be a bit tricky compared to other tumours because how quickly they can grow can vary greatly. This is determined by the location of the tumour in the brain and how it affects the individual’s nervous system.
There are different types of brain tumours based on the type of cells that it originates in. The symptoms of brain cancer depend largely upon the location, size and rate of growth of the tumour.
This is usually the first choice of treatment in the case of brain tumours. In order to perform these surgeries, the neurosurgeon needs to access the brain and so, makes an opening in the skull. The aim is to remove the entire tumour at one-go. However, many a time, the entire tumour cannot be removed without damaging the surrounding tissues.
In this case, the onco-surgeon removes as much of the tumour as possible with as little damage to the normal brain tissues as possible and follows this up with chemotherapy. Chemotherapy helps to reduce the pressure on the brain, shrink the tumour and improve the patient’s symptoms.
In some cases where the tumour cannot be removed surgically, a small amount of tumour tissue is taken for a biopsy to determine the type of cells present in it. This helps the oncologist determine the right choice of treatment that one can use.
Radiation therapy uses high-intensity rays to kill the cancer cells and prevent them from multiplying and spreading. The main goal of using radiation therapy, also called radiotherapy, is to destroy the brain tumour cells if it cannot be surgically removed or to kill the remaining cancer cells after a surgical removal of the tumour.
Radiation therapy can be given in two ways– external radiotherapy wherein, a large machine is used to give the specific number of radiation dosage for a 5 days a week, for a set number of weeks. In the second type of radiation treatment, a radioactive material is placed in the tumour for a short period of time.
The Gamma knife is a latest technology that can also be used to treat brain tumours. It is actually a radiation technique that delivers a finely focussed, high-dose of radiation aimed directly at the target. The treatment is usually given in just one session. This aims to kill the tumour cells without any damage to the surrounding healthy brain tissues. The newest treatment line is the Proton Beam Therapy.
This treatment uses drugs to kill the tumour cells and is used either as an adjunct to surgery, in combination with radiotherapy or all by itself depending upon the nature of the tumour. The oncologist may use one drug or a combination of them which are usually injected in to a muscle or a blood vessel. A type of chemotherapy, called as intrathecal chemotherapy, involves injecting the drugs directly into the cerebrospinal fluid.
Chemotherapy is generally given in cycles where the active therapy is followed by a period of rest and recuperation. Chemotherapy which was largely done as in-patient treatment in hospitals is now slowly shifting to out-patient option. However, the duration, the choice of drugs and number of chemotherapy sessions depends upon patient’s condition and the aggressiveness of the tumour.
Other brain cancer treatment options include targeted drug therapy that uses specific drugs that are targeted to kill the brain tumour cells. These treatment options also depend upon the brain tumour cancer experts and it is imperative that you consult the best for a cancer second opinion at it could be a life changing decision. The brain cancer treatment options are all aimed to completely remove the tumour and improve the patient’s symptoms and overall well-being.