How brain tumours are treated

Your specialist doctor and nurse will advise you on the best treatment options for your situation. You and your doctor can then decide on the right treatment plan for you. Treatment depends on the type, size, position and grade of the tumour. You may have a combination of treatments.

  • Surgery - If surgery is possible it is usually the main treatment for brain tumours. The operation you have depends on the size and position of the tumour.
  • Radiotherapy - High energy x-rays are used to destroy the tumour cell while doing as little harm as possible to the normal cells.
  • Chemotherapy - This uses anti-cancer (cytoxic) drugs to destroy cancer cells. These drugs affect the way tumour cells grow and divide, but they also affect normal cells.

People with slow growing tumours who don’t have symptoms may choose to have regular monitoring to see if the tumour grows before having treatment.

Symptom control is an important part of your treatment and care. You may need drugs called steroids which help reduce the swelling around the tumour. This improves your symptoms and helps you to feel better. Some people may need drugs to prevent seizures (anticonvulsants).

Back to Understanding brain tumours

What is a brain tumour?

Brain tumours can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Cancer is a disease caused by the abnormal division of cells. This uncontrolled division of cells then forms a tumour.

The brain and spinal cord

The brain controls the body’s functions. It is made of different parts that fulfill very specific tasks.

Primary brain tumours

Primary brain tumours may be benign or malignant. There are several types of brain tumours.

Secondary brain tumours

Secondary brain tumours happen when cancer cells spread to the brain from a cancer in another part of the body.