Steroids for brain tumours

Steroids are often prescribed to reduce swelling around brain tumours.

Doctors often prescribe drugs called steroids to reduce the swelling around brain tumours. They can make you feel better by improving the symptoms caused by increased pressure inside the skull (for example, headaches). The most commonly used steroid is called dexamethasone.

You may have steroids before, during and after your main treatment. It is important to take them exactly as your doctor has explained. Your pharmacist or nurse will give you a steroid card. Always carry this card with you. It is so that in an emergency a doctor will know you are taking steroids.

Never stop taking your steroids suddenly as this can make you very ill. Your doctor will give you advice about slowly reducing the dose when it is time to stop taking them.

Steroids can cause side effects including:

  • indigestion
  • increased appetite and weight gain
  • difficulty sleeping
  • feeling restless or agitated
  • raised blood sugar levels.

Taking high doses of steroids for a long time may cause more side effects. These include:

  • mood changes, such as feeling sad
  • swollen feet and legs
  • raised blood pressure.

You may also be more likely to get an infection.

We have more information about steroids.