Your treatment plan will depend on the size, location, and diagnosis of your tumor, as well as your health and preferences.

Surgery

If your tumor is in an area of the brain that can be safely accessed surgically, your surgeon will work to remove as much of the tumor as possible.

Sometimes, tumors are easily removed with good margins of healthy tissue, making complete removal possible. Other times, tumors have borders that are not clearly defined and cannot be completely removed or separated from surrounding tissue. If your tumor is located in a sensitive area of the brain, your surgeon will evaluate the risk associated with its removal and will only remove as much as is safe.

In many cases, even the removal of a portion of a tumor can help relieve symptoms. Partial or complete removal of a tumor can be combined with other treatments in your individualized treatment plan.

Brain surgery carries risks, including infection and bleeding. Surgeries in specific areas of the brain may hold different risks, including loss of vision, memory, motor function, or speech. Your surgeon will evaluate of these risks to determine the safest course of treatment.

Radiation

Radiation oncology doctors use radiation treatments, also referred to as radiation therapy, to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The radiation energy injures or destroys cells in the target tissue, making it impossible for these cells to continue to grow and divide.

Our physicians offer radiation therapy, which is delivered by a machine outside your body, and brachytherapy, which is radiation that can be placed inside your body close to your tumor. In cases where surgical intervention poses too many risks, Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be used to deliver radiation in a specific area of the brain while minimizing risks to surrounding tissue.

The WVU Cancer Institute is the first institution in the United States to offer intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to treat glioblastoma.

Medication

Your physician may choose chemotherapy as a part of your individualized treatment plan. Chemotherapy drugs work to kill tumor cells and can be taken orally in pill form or intravenously. The type of chemotherapy that is used is dependent on the type of cancer.

Chemotherapy can cause many side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and hair loss. These side effects can vary depending on the type and dose of drugs that are used. Other medications may be prescribed to help alleviate these symptoms.

Tests can be performed on your tumor cells to determine whether and what kind of chemotherapy would be helpful for you.

Your physician may choose to use targeted drug treatment to focus on specific abnormalities within the cancer cells. These drugs work by blocking these abnormalities, causing the cancer cells to die.