An Overview of Invasive vs. Noninvasive Treatments for Brain Tumors

There are many options available in northern NJ for treating your brain tumor. These include both invasive and noninvasive treatments.

Understanding Your Treatment Options

Learning you have a brain tumor can be a stressful experience, no doubt about it. However, by taking the time to educate yourself about your condition and treatment options, you are taking an active role in your care. This is an excellent way to help set your mind at ease, whether you are still in the treatment planning phase or already have a procedure scheduled. To assist you, the following information will enhance your understanding of invasive and noninvasive treatment options available in the tri-state area for treating your brain tumor.

What are “Invasive Treatments” for Brain Tumors?

When you hear the phrase, “invasive treatment,” think of a surgical procedure. Many patients benefit from surgical removal of all or part of a brain tumor. Surgery takes place in a hospital setting, typically while you are asleep and comfortable. Following treatment, you can expect to spend a few days to a week recovering in the hospital. Recovery at home often involves weeks to months of activity restrictions. Some patients may undergo physical therapy during this time. If the surgeon only removed part of your brain tumor, you may also have follow-up therapy during this time, as well. Adjunct therapies are often noninvasive procedures, discussed further on.

Some invasive treatments for brain tumors that you may have come across include:

  • Traditional surgery – Traditional surgery is what most patients are familiar with, using standard instruments to remove all or part of your brain tumor.
  • Minimally invasive surgery – Some tumors can be removed using specialized instruments and microscopic visualization. When this option is available, the incision is much smaller, and there is less disruption to soft tissues. However, only certain tumors in certain sites can be accessed using a minimally invasive approach.
  • Craniotomy – A craniotomy is the temporary removal of a section of the skull to provide the surgeon access to your brain tumor. The bone is replaced at the end of the procedure, and the soft tissue is closed with sutures or staples.
  • Biopsy – A biopsy is the removal of part of your brain tumor for analysis by a pathologist. This may be a separate procedure, where only a small section is removed, or it may be done at the time of your tumor resection surgery.

What are “Noninvasive Treatments” for Brain Tumors?

By contrast, noninvasive treatments do not involve any type of surgery. Because there are many types of brain tumors, the noninvasive treatments listed below may not all be viable options for your individual condition. For example, whole-brain radiation therapy may be a treatment option for metastatic brain cancer, but not acoustic neuroma. Noninvasive treatment options for brain tumors include:

  • Gamma Knife Radiosurgery – This is an advanced form of radiation therapy that can target just your brain tumor, sparing healthy surrounding tissues. Gamma Knife radiosurgery takes place in an outpatient setting, without a hospital stay. Most patients are back to normal activity levels within a day or two.
  • Whole-brain Radiation Therapy – When most people think of radiation treatment for brain tumors, it is likely whole-brain radiation that comes to mind. This form of radiation can be used to treat some brain tumors by administering multiple doses of radiation over a period of weeks. However, both healthy and tumor tissue are affected, leading to unpleasant side effects.
  • Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the use of medications to treat a condition. Some medications can be used to target a tumor directly, and others are helpful to manage symptoms related to your brain tumor.

The Right Choice for You

Again, it’s important to remember that your brain tumor may not be treatable using some of the above procedures. There are many different types of brain tumors, each made of up different sorts of cells. Your doctor will take this into consideration when developing your personalized treatment plan. Other factors that will affect your treatment plan include:

  • The size of your brain tumor
  • The location of your brain tumor
  • The type of brain tumor present
  • The number of tumors present
  • Your overall health, including your age and other health conditions

Moving Forward from Here

The information here is a broad overview of treatments for brain tumors in general. It is important you continue the discussion with your personal doctor. He or she understands your individual condition and can explain your treatment options available in NJ. Every patient is unique, and what suits one person may not be the best choice for you.

As you move along your treatment path, continue educating yourself about your brain tumor. This will help you have confidence in your conversations with your doctor, reducing stress because you know you are on the right track. You’ve already begun the process of self-education, and that little extra effort translates to increased peace of mind. Keep up the good work.

Get Your Questions Answered, By a Real Person.

Our Patient Liaison is here to help you understand your next step. After discussing your specific case, she can help you navigate your medical records, answer insurance questions, and connect you with one of our nurses, at no charge to you.

Patient liaisons explain Gamma Knife surgery cost, outcomes, etc.