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                      Brain Cancer

Intro

See your health-care provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained, persistent  vomiting
  • Double vision or unexplained blurring of vision, especially on only one side
  • Lethargy or increased sleepiness
  • New seizures
  • New pattern or type of headaches

Although headaches are thought to be a common symptom of brain cancer, they may not occur until late in the progression of the disease. If any significant change in your headache pattern occurs, your health-care provider may suggest that you go the hospital.

If you have a known brain tumor, any new symptoms or relatively sudden or rapid worsening of symptoms warrants a trip to the nearest hospital emergency department. Be on the lookout for the following new symptoms:

  • Seizures
  • Changes in mental status, such as excessive sleepiness, memory problems, or inability to concentrate
  • Visual changes or other sensory problems
  • Difficulty with speech or in expressing yourself
  • Changes in behavior or personality
  • Clumsiness or difficulty walking
  • Nausea or vomiting (especially in middle-aged or older people)
  • Sudden onset of fever , especially after chemotherapy

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Self-Care at Home

Your health-care provider and the physician team in charge of your case should discuss details about home care with you and your family members.

Home care usually includes supportive measures according to your symptoms.

For example, if you have trouble walking, you probably should have a walker available at home when you need to walk.

If you have mental status changes, a care plan should be directed to your individual needs.
If your prognosis is poor, it is appropriate to discuss options of hospice care, advance directives to doctors, and provisions for a living will.

Home hospice care is a way of providing pain and symptom relief, as well as emotional and spiritual support for the patient and the family, at home rather than in the hospital. It involves a multidisciplinary approach that may include a physician or other care provider, nurses, a pharmacist, aides, a social worker, a spiritual caregiver, and counselors.

Advance directive and living will are legal documents that spell out specifically which treatments are to be given and which are to be withheld. For example, a person with advanced brain cancer may not want to be put on a ventilator (breathing machine) if he or she stops breathing. You have the right to make these decisions for yourself as long as you are mentally competent.

Follow-up

Once your brain tumor is diagnosed, you need to be very careful to keep all of your appointments with consultants and your primary health-care provider. In general, people with brain cancer are at increased risk for additional medical problems and, potentially, reoccurrence or worsening of their symptoms.

After your treatment, you will be returning for follow-up visits with your cancer team. A schedule of follow-up checkups and tests will be recommended. The purpose of this follow-up is to ensure that any recurrence of your cancer or any long-term effect of the treatment is identified promptly so that it can be treated right away.

Prevention

In general, there is no way to prevent brain cancers. Early diagnosis and treatment of tumors that tend to metastasize to the brain may reduce the risk of metastatic brain tumors.

The following factors have been suggested as possible risk factors for primary brain tumors. Avoiding the factors that can be avoided may reduce your risk.

Radiation to the head
HIV  infection

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