To speak to a specialist cancer nurse,
freefone the National Cancer Helpline
1800 200 700
Mon—Thurs 9am—7pm Fri 9am—5pm
Your treatment will depend on the location, stage, grade and type of cancer cells you have. The stage looks at the size of your cancer and if it has spread from where it started. The grade of the cancer can tell if your cancer grows quickly or slowly. You can have a low, moderate or high grade cancer.
There are many different types of surgical treatments for brain tumours. Some of them include:
Your doctor will advise you on which surgery is suitable for you. The side-effects of surgery will also be explained before the operation. For more information on the different types of brain surgery, see the section in Macmillian about brain tumour treatment.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to cure or control cancer. Some patients are given chemotherapy to shrink their tumour, slow the growth or control their symptoms. Your doctor will tell you if you are suitable for this treatment.
Many cancer patients receive a combination of two or three chemotherapy drugs. Chemotherapy can also be given before or after radiotherapy and surgery. The drugs are either injected into your bloodstream or given in tablet form. Your doctor might decide to give you intrathecal chemotherapy. This is when chemotherapy is put directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). See the booklet Understanding Chemotherapy, which you can download from our "Important cancer information booklets" list on the right hand side of this page, for more information.
Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy rays that are aimed directly at the tumour to kill or shrink the cancer cells. The rays come from a machine called a linear accelerator. Nowadays, there are more precise ways to give radiotherapy. These include three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) and intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). They are programmed to match the precise shape of the tumour and aim high-energy rays at it, while doing the least damage to nearby normal cells.
Radiotherapy can be used after surgery to kill any remaining cells. A special mask will be made for you so your head does not move each time you get treatment. See our booklet Understanding Radiotherapy, which you can download from our "Important cancer information booklets" list on the right hand side of this page, for more information.
Steroids are drugs made naturally in the body. They can greatly reduce any inflammation and swelling. It is common to have steroids as part of your treatment. Your doctor may give you steroids to reduce swelling or pressure in your brain. These drugs will be gradually reduced as you improve. There are side-effects to steroids but your doctor will explain these beforehand.
These newer treatments are being used for brain tumours in some hospitals in Ireland and the UK. Your doctor will let you know if they are suitable for you and also available to you.
For more information, please see our factsheet on Advanced Radiotherapy Treatments (pdf 332KB).
Advanced cancer means that the cancer has spread from the area where it started. If it spreads in the area around the brain, it is called local spread. It can also spread to other areas of the body. This is called secondary cancer or metastatic cancer.
Sadly, it is usually not possible to cure advanced cancer. Treatment can be given to control the cancer and to improve your quality of life. Treatments can involve steroids, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
You may also be seen by the palliative care team at this time. This team are there to help with your symptoms and to support you and your family through your treatment.
The type of side-effects you get will depend on the type of treatment, the dose, the duration and your own general health. Some treatments may cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite or hair loss. Many treatments cause fatigue. You may also experience headaches, drowsiness, dizzy spells but these will gradually improve once treatment is over. Your doctor will discuss any likely side-effects beforehand.
For more about coping with side-effects, download any of the "Important cancer information booklets" listed on the right hand side of this page.
If a treatment looks like it might be helpful, it is given to patients in research studies called clinical trials. Trials may be taking place at the hospital you are attending. If you are interested in taking part, talk to your doctor. He or she can tell you if the trial would suit you or not.
Freephone 1800 200 700 to talk to a specialist cancer nurse
It's open Monday-Thursday from 9am to 7pm and Friday from 9am to 5pm
National Cancer Helpline
Freefone 1 800 200 700
Talk to a specialist nurse
Have you used the Irish Cancer Society's cancer information services by phone, Daffodil Centre, email, social media or this website? A UCD research team is helping us to evaluate so that we can improve those services.
Download PDF versions of the following important booklets to your device:
For more Cancer Information booklets, visit our Publications page.