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Find A Radiation Oncologist

Treatment Types

If doctors determine that you have a brain tumor, the treatment options and prognosis are based on many factors including tumor type, location and size of the tumor, grade (how aggressive it appears), molecular characteristics of your tumor, your age and your overall health. Depending upon these and other factors, surgery, radiation therapy, medical therapy (chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy), anti-mitotic therapy or some combination may be treatment options.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy involves the precise use of high-energy X-rays or particles to safely and effectively treat brain tumors. Radiation works within tumor cells by damaging their ability to grow. Healthy cells near the tumor may be affected by radiation, but they are able to repair themselves in a way tumor cells cannot.

Radiation therapy can be used after surgery, or in some cases, instead of surgery. Ask your cancer doctors if radiation therapy could be helpful for your treatment.


For many brain tumors, surgery is an important part of treatment. A neurosurgeon may perform a surgical biopsy to determine what kind of tumor you have. Sometimes only a part of the tumor can be safely removed in order to preserve your quality of life and function, while other times all of the visible tumor can be safely removed. The extent of surgery is mainly based on the location of the tumor. Depending on your tumor, surgery may be the only treatment needed. In some cases, radiation is used instead of or after surgery to lessen the chances of the tumor returning in the same place or growing in another part of the brain. Ask your surgeon what type of surgery is recommended for you

Medical Therapy

Anti-cancer drugs known as chemotherapy may be given in addition to radiation to make treatment more effective or can sometimes be used instead of radiation. Chemotherapy may be given as a pill or through an intravenous (IV) line directly into your bloodstream on a set schedule. Chemotherapy can be given before or after radiation therapy, but is generally not given during radiation therapy. Targeted therapy uses drugs to target specific genes and proteins, that help cancer cells survive and grow.

Immunotherapy utilizes the body’s own immune system to recognize and attack tumors. The type of systemic therapy you receive may be dependent on the molecular characteristics of your tumor. Ask your medical oncologist or neuro-oncologist which medications may be best for you.

Anti-mitotic Therapy

For patients with high-grade primary brain tumors (glioblastoma multiforme or GBM) or primary brain tumors that come back after initial treatment, an external treatment device that delivers a low-voltage electric field around the tumor area may be part of your treatment plan. The tumor treatment fields (TTFs) made by this system prevent the growth of cancer cells and work in a different way than radiation and chemotherapy.