Brain Tumor Treatment
By Shannon Burford
In basic terms a brain tumor is an uncontrolled growth of cells forming a lump in the brain. Just like any other form of cancer, a brain tumor can spread to any other parts of the body. Even before the brain tumor proliferates, or metastasises the tumor could cause alterations in the brain function and damage to the brain tissue.
In the currently medical health system, brain tumors are usually treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Sometimes only on method is used and other times a combination of treatments is used. Treatment for brain tumors depends on a number of factors including the type, location and size of the tumor as well as the patient's age and health. Furthermore, treatment methods and schedules differ for children and adults.
Before treatment begins, most patients are given steroids pharmaceutical medicines that relieve swelling or oedema. Patients may also receive anticonvulsant medicine to prevent or control seizures.
Natural Therapy Treatment
If you have been recently diagnosed with cancer you may be considering complementary medicine, herbs or supplements which may help with treatment. You may also be uncertain why a particular remedy is used and how much you should take. You might receive mixed messages from family, friends or medical professionals and it can be quite overwhelming.
It's important to get professional advice and be careful with advice you may find on the internet!
Contact the Cura Clinic to speak with a naturopath or make a booking.
Brain Tumors in Children
Orthodox Hospital Treatment options
Surgery is the most common treatment for brain tumors. To remove a brain tumor, a neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull which is called a craniotomy. If the tumor cannot be completely removed without damaging vital brain tissue the surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible. Partial removal helps to relieve symptoms by reducing pressure on the brain and reduces the amount of tumor to be treated by radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Some tumors cannot be removed and in the surgeons may do only a biopsy so that a pathologist can examine it under a microscope to determine the type of cells it contains. The surgeons use a special head frame (like a halo) and CT scans or MRI to pinpoint the exact location of the tumor. The surgeon then makes a small hole in the skull and then guides a needle to the tumor. This technique is called stereotaxis.
Radiation therapy is a brain tumor treatment where a highly powered ray is used to destroy cancer cells intended to stop it from growing and metastasising. This is usually given if surgery is not possible on the tumor and is also given to patients who have already had surgery to kill any cancer cells left on the affected part of the brain.
The Gamma Knife or Cyber Knife has recently been introduced to Western Australian hospitals and is another way to treat brain tumors. The Cyber Knife isn't actually a knife, but a radiation therapy technique that delivers a single, finely focused, high dose of radiation precisely to its target. High-energy rays are aimed at the tumor from many angles and is given in just one treatment session.
There is more information about Radiotherapy on this page.
Chemotherapy treatment is given when the tumor is cancerous or malignant. Chemotherapy is the the term used to describe the use of drugs to kill cells throughout the entire body. It is administered to the patient orally or through injections to kill the cancer cells in the body.
Naturopath Philosophy and Adjunctive Treatment
The word “naturopathy” is a broad term used to describe a natural medicine physician trained in the areas of western herbal medicine and natural therapies. The practice of naturopathy is also known as alternative medicine, integrative medicine or natural therapies in Australia. Naturopathy includes a multimodality approach, incorporating nutrition (which includes diet and lifestyle modification and vitamin and mineral therapy), herbal medicine, homeopathy and iridology. Iridology is often used as a diagnostic aid to compliment the other tools. Physical therapies may also be employed, including therapeutic massage and remedial massage. A naturopath should be eclectic, using a mixture of these therapies, or specialise in one or more. The key is to tailor the consultation and treatment to the individual patient.
Commonly Prescribed Natural Medicines
The following nutritional supplements and herbal remedies are often prescribed in patients with Prostate cancer or BPH. Only some of these recommended for each patient and there is never a generic prescription as the patient is always an individual.
- Cura blend Organic herbal tea
- Anti-inflammatory herbal medicine preparations
- Metagenics Metapure EPA/DHA
- Liquid Herbal medicines specific for patient
- Vitamin D 1000IU capsules
- Orthoplex Zinc lozenge
- Mediherb P-2 Detox
- Bioceuticals Ultraclean EPA/DHA
- Homeopathic remedies
Side Effects of Pharmaceutical Treatment
Steroids are often given to reduce the oedema in the brain region. They have a range of both short-term and long-term side effects. Common short-term side effects include insomnia, increased appetite, mood swings, localised swelling and personality changes. The side effects are different for each individual. Side effects from long-term use of steroids, for example dexamethasone, may include cataracts, osteoporosis, muscle weakeness and diabetes.
Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) are pharmaceutical medicines used to control seizures. They are also called anticonvulsants or epilepsy drugs. A patient may be put on AEDs if he or she experiences a seizure or as a precautionary measure. Some common AEDs are phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Tegretol), valproate (Depakote), levetiracetam (Keppra), gabapentin (Neurontin), topiramate (Topomax), and lamotrigine (Lamictal). The type and amount of medication is based on the level of seizure control needed and the side effects from the medication. Common side effects may include fatigue, weakness, nausea and lack of balance or coordination.
Herbal medicine is the oldest and still the most widely used system of medicine in the world today. It is an effective and natural way in assisting the body’s own healing capacity and promoting optimal health and wellbeing.
Tumeric, for example, is one such herb which has an increasing amount of literature to support the use of the herbal medicine in cancer. Biobran MGN-3 Arabinoxylan Complex (Biobran) also has supportive evidence in multiple cancers.
Herbal medicine has a long and successful history. It is how people of all cultures and even animals have been treating illness and maintaining health for thousands of years. The Egyptians from 3000BC kept lists of medicinal plants used to treat illness and from here the Greeks, such as Dioscorides and Galen, wrote books detailing the use of herbal medicine in early AD.
Consultations are available Australia wide in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane via skype or telephone.
Contact the clinic to speak with a naturopath or to make an appointment