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Medicines for a Brain Tumor

Brain tumors often cause symptoms such as headaches, seizures, mood swings, memory problems, and more. To help you feel better and treat your symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine, such as those covered here. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if it's OK to take this medicine with other medicines.

Man talking to doctor with pill bottle on table.

Steroids

Steroids reduce brain swelling and fluid build-up around the brain. This helps reduce headaches and ease other symptoms. Most of the time you take steroids as pills at home. Always take steroids as directed. Don't stop taking them without your healthcare provider’s approval. If you've been taking steroids for more than a few days, don’t stop them right away. You'll need to stop taking them slowly over time.

Common side effects can include:

  • Swelling in your hands and feet (water retention)

  • Increased appetite and thirst

  • Weight gain

  • Hair growth

  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

  • Stomach upset

  • Increased risk of infection

  • Weakness

  • Slow wound healing

  • Mood changes

  • Increased blood sugar levels that make diabetes harder to manage

Anticonvulsants

Anticonvulsants help prevent seizures and convulsions. If you've had seizures, you may be given one of these medicines. They might be used to try to keep you from having seizures. Always take them as directed. You may need regular blood tests to make sure you're getting the right dose. If you've been taking this medicine for more than a few days, don’t stop it right away. You will need to stop taking it slowly over time.

Some of the more common side effects tend to go away over time. These include:

  • Upset stomach

  • Feeling tired

  • Blurry vision

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these side effects: 

  • Trouble breathing

  • Rash

  • Balance problems

  • Dizziness

  • Signs of infection (such as fever or chills)

Talk with your healthcare provider about possible side effects of the medicine you're given. Some serious side effects may be more likely if you're having radiation therapy.

Other medicines

Medicines can help treat side effects caused by the brain tumors or your cancer treatments. These include:

  • Antiemetics to help control nausea and vomiting. There are many options and types of treatment for this. Make sure your provider knows if the medicine you have isn't working.

  • Antacids to control stomach acid

  • Laxatives or stool softeners to prevent or treat constipation

  • Pain relievers 

  • Medicine to help with anxiety, stress, or depression

  • Hormones to replace the ones that your body isn’t making as a result of treatment or some types of tumors

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Cunningham RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Richard LoCicero MD
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2020
© 2000-2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.