Rehabilitation can be a very important part of the treatment plan. The goals of rehabilitation depend on the person’s needs and how the tumor has affected daily activities. The health care team makes every effort to help the patient return to normal activities as soon as possible. Several types of therapists can help:
- Physical therapists – Brain tumors and their treatment may cause paralysis. They may also cause weakness and problems with balance. Physical therapists help patients regain strength and balance.
- Speech therapists – Speech therapists help patients who have trouble speaking, expressing thoughts, or swallowing.
- Occupational therapists – Occupational therapists help patients learn to manage activities of daily living, such as eating, using the toilet, bathing, and dressing.
Children with brain tumors may have special needs. Sometimes children have tutors in the hospital or at home. Children who have problems learning or remembering what they learn may need tutors or special classes when they return to school.
What happens after treatment for brain tumors?
Regular followup is very important after treatment for a brain tumor. The doctor checks closely to make sure that the tumor has not returned. Checkups may include careful physical and neurologic exams. From time to time, the patient may have MRI or CT scans. If the patient has a shunt, the doctor checks to see that it is working well. The doctor can explain the followup plan – how often the patient must visit the doctor and what tests will be needed.
What support is available to patients with brain tumors?
Living with a serious disease such as a brain tumor is not easy. Some people find they need help coping with the emotional and practical aspects of their disease. Support groups can help. In these groups, patients or their family members get together to share what they have learned about coping with the disease and the effects of treatment. Patients may want to talk with a member of their health care team about finding a support group. Groups may offer support in person, over the telephone, or on the Internet.
People living with a brain tumor may worry about caring for their families, keeping their jobs, or continuing daily activities. Concerns about treatments and managing side effects, hospital stays, and medical bills are also common. Doctors, nurses, and other members of the health care team can answer questions about treatment, working, or other activities. Meeting with a social worker, counselor, or member of the clergy can be helpful to those who want to talk about their feelings or discuss their concerns. Often, a social worker can suggest resources for financial aid, transportation, home care, or emotional support.
The Cancer Information Service can provide information to help patients and their families locate programs, services, and publications.
The promise of cancer research
Doctors all over the country are conducting many types of clinical trials. These are research studies in which people take part voluntarily. Studies include new ways to treat brain tumors. Research has already led to advances, and researchers continue to search for more effective approaches.
Patients who join these studies have the first chance to benefit from treatments that have shown promise in earlier research. They also make an important contribution to medical science by helping doctors learn more about the disease. Although clinical trials may pose some risks, researchers take very careful steps to protect their patients.
Researchers are testing new anticancer drugs, doses, and treatment schedules. They are working with various drugs and drug combinations, as well as combinations of drugs and radiation therapy. They also are testing new methods and schedules of radiation therapy.