A primary malignant brain tumor is cancer that begins in the brain. Cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow out of control. These tumors usually grow quickly. They can spread throughout the brain and sometimes to the spinal cord. As the tumors grow, they can affect important brain functions. Brain cancer can be deadly.
There are many types of malignant brain tumors. Treatment depends on tumor type and location in the brain. Treatment includes radiation, surgery, medicines (such as chemotherapy and immunotherapy), or a combination of these.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.
- Follow your doctor's instructions to relieve pain. Pain from cancer and surgery can almost always be controlled. Use pain medicine when you first notice pain, before it becomes severe.
- Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that has protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss.
- Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired.
- Get enough sleep, and take time to do things you enjoy. This can help reduce stress.
- Think about joining a support group. Or discuss your concerns with your doctor or a counselor.
- If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
- When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
- If you have not already done so, prepare a list of advance directives. Advance directives are instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You have a seizure (convulsions).
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
- You have new or worse headaches.
- You have new symptoms of brain problems, such as weakness, numbness, or speech or vision changes.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:
- You do not get better as expected.