Malignant Brain Tumour (Secondary): Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A secondary malignant brain tumour is cancer that has spread to the brain from another part of the body. This type of tumour is different from a brain tumour that began in the brain. Cancer that spreads to the brain is called by the name of the initial (primary) cancer. For example, lung cancer that spreads to the brain is called metastatic lung cancer.

These tumours usually grow quickly and can spread throughout the brain. As malignant brain tumours grow, they can harm important brain functions. Brain cancer can be deadly.

There are many types of malignant brain tumours. Treatment depends on where the cancer started, the type of tumour, and where it is in the brain. Treatment may include radiation, surgery, medicines (chemotherapy), or a combination of these treatments.

When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Seek out family, friends, and counsellors for support. You also can do things at home to make yourself feel better while you go through treatment. Call the Canadian Cancer Society (1-888-939-3333) or visit its website at www.cancer.ca for more information.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Take your medicines exactly as prescribed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems with your medicine. You may get medicine for nausea and vomiting if you have these side effects.
  • Eat healthy food. If you do not feel like eating, try to eat food that contains protein and extra calories to keep up your strength and prevent weight loss. Drink liquid meal replacements for extra calories and protein. Try to eat your main meal early.
  • Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired. Keep doing the hobbies you enjoy as your energy allows.
  • Take steps to control your stress and workload. Learn relaxation techniques.
    • Share your feelings. Stress and tension affect our emotions. By expressing your feelings to others, you may be able to understand and cope with them.
    • Consider joining a support group. Talking about a problem with your spouse, a good friend, or other people with similar problems is a good way to reduce tension and stress.
    • Express yourself through art. Try writing, crafts, dance, or art to relieve stress. Some dance, writing, or art groups may be available just for people who have cancer.
    • Be kind to your body and mind. Getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and taking time to do things you enjoy can contribute to an overall feeling of balance in your life and can help reduce stress.
    • Get help if you need it. Discuss your concerns with your doctor or counsellor.
  • If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
    • Drink plenty of fluids (enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water) to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other caffeine-free clear liquids. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • When you are able to eat, try clear soups, mild foods, and liquids until all symptoms are gone for 12 to 48 hours. Other good choices include dry toast, crackers, cooked cereal, and gelatin dessert, such as Jell-O.
  • If you have not already done so, prepare an advance care plan. An advance care plan provides instructions to your doctor and family members about what kind of care you want if you become unable to speak or express yourself.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have a seizure.
  • You have trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You are dizzy or lose your balance.
  • You have weakness or lack of feeling in an arm or leg.
  • You lose bladder or bowel control.
  • Part of your face droops or sags.
  • You have vision problems, such as blurred or double vision, or you can see only out of one eye.
  • You slur your words or cannot talk normally.
  • You get severe headaches.
  • You cannot stop vomiting.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your symptoms get worse.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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