Metastatic Brain and Spine Tumors

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Holistic Approach

All individuals, regardless of diagnosis, should be treated as whole patients and not just a constellation of conditions. A patient with a metastatic brain tumor, however, is especially complex and requires a multi-disciplinary approach to care.

In addition to neurosurgery, some of the services that an individual with a metastatic brain tumor may require are:

Integrative medicine recognizes the importance of treating the whole patient, including nutritional therapy, stress and grief management, and other emotional issues. An integrative medicine provider may recommend diet and exercise, yoga, acupuncture, or spiritual counseling. These have all been shown to improve quality of life during cancer treatment.

Pain management is a key component of brain metastasis treatment, since the pain of the cancer and/or the treatment can significantly affect a patient’s quality of life. There is no need to suffer pain needlessly – a pain management specialist has many options that offer relief, including medications, injections, and spinal cord stimulation.

Radiation oncology may be used as an alternative to surgery, or it may be used after surgery to kill off any tumor cells left behind after surgery. Radiation oncology includes radiation therapy, stereotactic radiotherapy, hypofractionated radiotherapy, brachytherapy, stereotactic body radiotherapy, and intraoperative radiation techniques, with the intent of reducing toxicity to normal tissues and improving treatment outcomes.

Social work is an often-overlooked element of patient care, but it’s critical for an individual with a metastatic brain tumor. These patients often have issues with home care, finances, insurance, transportation, and more. Often overlooked, caregivers frequently need assistance as well.

Palliative care experts can help manage symptoms of pain and fatigue associated with a cancer diagnosis with the ultimate goal of improving comfort and easing anxiety. Their emphasis is on quality of life and daily function. In addition, they assist in improving quality of life for patients with terminal cancer.

Neuropsychology can be a great help for the metastatic brain tumor patient, who may be experiencing both cognitive side effects of the tumor or its treatment and emotional issues related to their condition.

Reviewed by: Rohan Ramakrishna, MD
Last reviewed: December 2017