Metastatic brain cancer can be treated using surgery and other treatment options.
- Metastatic brain cancer surgery takes place in a hospital.
- Recovery takes about 1 week in a hospital and 4-8 weeks at home.
- Surgery is always followed by radiation therapy.
- Some patients can receive with alternative treatment methods, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
Your Metastatic Brain Cancer Treatment in NJ
Learning about your metastatic brain cancer is a good way to set your mind at ease through the diagnosis and treatment process. Understanding what to expect along the way will help you plan ahead, giving you a sense of confidence as you move along your treatment path. The following explanation of metastatic brain cancer surgery and other treatment options available in the tri-state area will help you develop this knowledge.
About Metastatic Brain Cancer
Before discussing metastatic brain cancer surgery, it is important to understand a little bit about your condition. What makes metastatic brain cancer unique is it has spread from another cancer in the body and made its way to the brain. Common primary cancers include lung, kidney and breast cancer. This is in contrast to a condition like an astrocytoma, which is a primary brain tumor that develops from native brain cells.
Metastatic Brain Cancer Surgery
If your doctor has recommended metastatic brain cancer surgery, it can be helpful to know what to expect before, during and after the procedure. Surgery may be necessary if your tumor is very large or aggressive and in an accessible area. All patients who undergo metastatic brain cancer surgery will need follow-up radiation therapy to ensure all the dangerous cells are eliminated.
Preparing for Your Surgery
Before your metastatic brain cancer surgery, you will have appointments with your personal doctor. You may need to alter your medications, so make sure your doctor has an up-to-date list of everything you are taking. This includes vitamins and supplements. He or she will also give you directions about food and water intake before your procedure. It is important you follow all these instructions, as they are for your comfort and safety.
Your metastatic brain cancer surgery will take place in a hospital while you are asleep. During the procedure, the surgeon will remove a small section of skull to access your tumor (a craniotomy). Then the surgeon will cut out all or part of your metastases, replace the section of bone, and close the soft tissues with sutures or staples. Next, you will be transferred to an intensive care unit to begin your recovery.
Recovery Following Metastatic Brain Cancer Surgery
Immediately following surgery, you will recover in a special area until you are awake and your vital signs are stable. The rest of your recovery involves an hour or two in a recovery room, ICU for a day or two, and a regular hospital room until discharge. Typically, the whole post-op period is three days. When you no longer require 24-hour monitoring, your doctor will release you to complete your recovery at home.
As you recover, you will have activity restrictions, including limits on strenuous activity and lifting. You may also have driving restrictions for a period of time. Recovery following metastatic brain cancer surgery typically lasts from 4-8 weeks. During this time, you will have follow-up appointments with your doctor to assess your recovery. As your body grows stronger, your doctor will allow you to increase your activity.
Other Treatment Options
All patients will require some form of radiation therapy following metastatic brain cancer surgery. However, some patients can be treated using radiation alone. The traditional treatment is whole brain radiation, which doses the entire brain with radiation over multiple treatments. Unfortunately, whole brain radiation therapy affects both healthy and unhealthy cells, leading to unpleasant side effects.
An alternative option available in NJ is Gamma Knife radiosurgery, an advanced form of radiation therapy. Using Gamma Knife radiosurgery, your doctor can target just your metastatic brain cancer, sparing healthy neighboring cells. The result is less unpleasant side effects and fewer treatment sessions than whole brain radiation. Gamma Knife radiosurgery can be an excellent option following surgery, but it can also be used alone to treat metastatic brain cancer. This can be important for patients who are not good surgical candidates or when brain metastases are in inaccessible areas.
Understanding Your Personal Treatment Path
Your doctor will work with you to develop a treatment plan based on your individual condition. This includes the origin of your metastatic brain cancer, as well as the number of tumors, their size and location. You may be undergoing treatment of your primary cancer at the same time, and your entire care team to work together to manage your case. This is why it is especially important to work with a metastatic brain cancer expert in the tri-state area.
If you find you still have questions about your treatment, be sure to bring them up with your personal doctor at your next appointment. He or she is the best person to help you relate the information you’ve learned to your specific condition. It is important you are comfortable with all stages of your treatment. This peace of mind will help you remain focused on the healing process, letting your body and mind rest easy when it matters most.