Chemotherapy is one way your child may be treated for a brain tumour. Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy tumour cells by interrupting or stopping their growth. Chemotherapy can be used on its own, with radiotherapy, or it may be used before or after surgery.
Our bodies are made up of cells that divide to reproduce and repair themselves. Cytotoxic drugs used in chemotherapy disturb the dividing process of both tumour cells and healthy cells. Healthy cells are better able to repair themselves, whilst tumour cells are more likely to die.
Depending on your child's type of brain tumour, their age, and general health, chemotherapy may be given:
Your child may be given chemotherapy in one of a number of ways:
This is the usual method and may be given via a central line, a PICC line or a portacath. The type of 'line' your child has will depend on factors, such as your child's age and tumour type. The line is put in under general anaesthetic and stays in place until your child's chemotherapy treatment has finished. You will be taught by your child's health team how to care for the line.
This is a less common method. If your child is given chemotherapy by this method, wear disposable gloves when handling the medication, particularly if you are pregnant. Do NOT crush the tablets.
Chemotherapy drugs can have an unpleasant after-taste - giving you child flavoured chewing gum or a sweet afterwards can help to disguise the taste.
Your child's health team will plan and tailor your child's treatment based on the type of tumour your child has, your child's age, the amount of tumour removed (where relevant), and your child's general health.
It could vary from daily chemotherapy for a while as a day-case in hospital, to several days on a ward every few weeks.
These cycles of treatment can be given over 3 months to 12 months, or even longer.
Side-effects vary from child to child and according to the drugs they have been given. As chemotherapy temporarily acts on healthy cells as well as tumour cells, it may cause some unpleasant, short-term side-effects, commonly including:
Our FREE Brain Tumour Information Pack has been designed to help you through this difficult time, to guide you through the healthcare system, answer your questions, and reassure you that you're not alone so that you feel confident when discussing treatment and care options with your medical team.