Malignant Brain Tumour (Secondary): 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 (such as chemotherapy), or a combination of these treatments.
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 advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) 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 advice line if you have any problems with your medicine.
- Follow your doctor's instructions to relieve pain. Pain from cancer and surgery can almost always be controlled. Use pain medicine when you first notice pain, before it becomes severe.
- 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.
- Get some physical activity every day, but do not get too tired.
- Get enough sleep, and take time to do things you enjoy. This can help reduce stress.
- Think about joining a support group. Or discuss your concerns with your doctor or a counsellor.
- If you are vomiting or have diarrhea:
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Choose water and other 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 (convulsions).
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You have new or worse nausea or vomiting.
- You have new or worse headaches.
- You have new symptoms of brain problems, such as weakness, numbness, or speech or vision changes.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- You do not get better as expected.
Current as of: May 4, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Jimmy Ruiz MD - Hematology, Oncology