Brain Cancer Chemotherapy – A Blunt Approach

Brain Cancer Chemotherapy - A Blunt Approach

Brain Cancer Chemotherapy – A Blunt Approach

Brain Cancer Chemotherapy – A Blunt Approach

Brain Cancer Chemotherapy - A Blunt Approach

A common part of a cancer treatment regimen is chemotherapy. We all know that it makes your hair fall out but what is it actually doing? What is it made of? Well, chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs called cytotoxic drugs to destroy cancer cells. The mechanism that these drugs employ is disrupting the growth of cancer cells. When these drugs circulate throughout the bloodstream in the body they can reach cancer cells wherever they are in your body including the brain.

When Is It Employed

brain_cancer_chemotherapyBrain cancer chemotherapy is generally used, after surgery, to try to prevent brain cancer from coming back. It’s also used to treat brain tumors that have come back since they were first treated by surgery or radiation. There are times that a brain tumor can not be operated on and chemotherapy may be the only way to treat it. Sometimes chemo can shrink the tumor enough for it to be operated on.

Chemotherapy can’t be used in all forms of brain cancer. In fact, there are only a few chemotherapy drugs that can be used on brain cancer. This is because of the blood-brain barrier. This barrier acts as a natural filter within the body. This filter will only allow certain substances through from the blood to the brain. This filter helps protect the brain from harmful substances in the blood and body. Chemotherapy drugs are toxic, so naturally, it is hard to get these cancer drugs to the brain.

How It’s Taken

There is a few different ways in which brain cancer chemotherapy can be administered; in tablet form, injected into a vein, injected into your spinal fluid, or administered directly into the area of a brain tumor. The most common way is to have injected directly into the bloodstream or in a bag of fluid through an IV drip.

There are some chemotherapy drugs such as temozolomide, procarbazine, or lomustine that can be taken by mouth. This form of chemotherapy can be done outpatient in the person’s home rather than having to go to the hospital for treatment. The obvious advantage of this is that you can have most or all of your treatment at home as an outpatient. In some situations, a patient may need a combination of tablets and injections to treat some more stubborn forms of brain cancer.

Sometimes drugs such as Methotrexate are injected into the spine to treat certain brain cancers. In this case, the drug is injected directly into the spinal canal. The chemotherapy drug then mixes with the spinal fluid and is then able to circulate through the brain and get around the challenge of the blood-brain barrier.

There is a newer form of chemotherapy treatment in the form of implantable wafers. In this treatment, the chemotherapy drug is inside a gel wafer. A surgeon then puts this gel wafer into the brain near the tumor. As the gel dissolves over a couple of weeks it releases the chemotherapy drug directly into the brain

Side Effects

One of the problems with brain cancer chemotherapy is that it is toxic. It does not always just attack cancer cells, and it is circulated throughout the whole body. This can make a patient very ill. Some common side effects are nausea and vomiting. A patient can expect hair thinning and hair loss. There can be memory loss, which is sometimes called ‘Chemo-brain’. The whole chemotherapy regimen can be exhausting.

Many of these side effects are usually treated with a number of different medications. Chemotherapy can also suppress the immune system and so patients should stay away from anyone with an infection or virus. I would strongly recommend taking a look at My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, the story about how this neuro-nutritionist overcame the effects of Chemotherapy and cancer itself.

When it comes to combating brain cancer, one of the most common treatment methods is chemotherapy. Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells and stop their growth. While it is an effective approach, it can be considered a blunt weapon in the fight against brain cancer. In this article, we will explore the various aspects of brain cancer chemotherapy, its limitations, and the potential for more targeted and personalized treatments in the future.

Understanding Brain Cancer Chemotherapy

What is Brain Cancer Chemotherapy?

    • Definition and purpose of chemotherapy in the treatment of brain cancer.
    • How chemotherapy drugs work to kill cancer cells.
    • Commonly used chemotherapy drugs for brain cancer treatment.

Administration and Procedure

    • Different methods of administering chemotherapy for brain cancer.
    • Intravenous (IV) chemotherapy, oral chemotherapy, and other delivery methods.
    • Frequency and duration of chemotherapy sessions.

Side Effects and Management

    • Common side effects of brain cancer chemotherapy.
    • Nausea, hair loss, fatigue, and other potential complications.
    • Supportive care and strategies to manage side effects.

Limitations of Brain Cancer Chemotherapy

Blood-Brain Barrier

    • The challenge of delivering chemotherapy drugs to the brain.
    • Blood-brain barrier’s role in restricting the passage of drugs.
    • Strategies to overcome the blood-brain barrier for better drug delivery.

Resistance and Tumor Heterogeneity

    • Development of resistance to chemotherapy drugs.
    • Tumor heterogeneity and its impact on treatment effectiveness.
    • Personalized medicine and targeted therapies as potential solutions.

Impact on Healthy Cells

    • Non-specific nature of chemotherapy drugs.
    • Damage to healthy cells and organs.
    • Balancing effectiveness with minimizing collateral damage.

Advancements and Future Directions

Targeted Therapies

    • Molecularly targeted therapies for brain cancer.
    • Specific drug interactions and their impact on cancer cells.
    • Benefits and limitations of targeted therapies.


    • Harnessing the immune system to fight brain cancer.
    • Checkpoint inhibitors, CAR-T cell therapy, and vaccines.
    • Potential for long-term remission with immunotherapy.

Nanotechnology and Drug Delivery

    • Utilizing nanotechnology for targeted drug delivery.
    • Nanoparticles, liposomes, and other innovative approaches.
    • Enhancing drug efficacy and reducing side effects.


While chemotherapy remains an essential tool in treating brain cancer, its limitations have sparked the need for more refined and personalized treatment approaches. Advances in targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and nanotechnology hold promise for a future where brain cancer treatment can be tailored to individual patients.

By overcoming the challenges posed by the blood-brain barrier, drug resistance, and collateral damage to healthy cells, we can develop more effective and precise treatments. As research continues to progress, the blunt approach of brain cancer chemotherapy may soon give way to a more nuanced and powerful arsenal against this devastating disease.

Remember, early detection, timely treatment, and ongoing research are crucial in the battle against brain cancer. Stay informed, consult with healthcare professionals, and support organizations that drive advancements in cancer care and research.

“The future of brain cancer treatment lies in the development of targeted therapies and personalized medicine. By understanding the unique characteristics of each patient’s tumor, we can deliver more precise and effective treatments while minimizing side effects.” – Dr. Jane Reynolds, Oncologist

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