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Many chemotherapy drugs are not as effective for brain cancer as they are for other types of cancer. The blood-brain barrier (the brain’s natural protective network of blood vessels) shields the brain from harmful substances but can also block chemotherapy drugs.
Our team is investigating novel drugs that can pass through the blood-brain barrier to reach tumors. We’re also looking into injectable chemotherapy drugs that can go directly into the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain. At Stanford, the promise of improved chemotherapy offers renewed hope for our patients.
Chemotherapy Medications for Brain Tumors
Our neuro-oncologists tailor your chemotherapy treatment to your personalized needs. Using a sample of your tumor taken from a biopsy, we can perform genetic testing to develop a profile of your cancer. By finding the right chemotherapy drug or combination of drugs, we provide treatment that can target your tumor while minimizing side effects.
Depending on your individual case, your treatment plan may include chemotherapy alone or in combination with surgery and radiation, and you may need one drug or a combination of drugs. Chemotherapy for brain tumors can be administered in these ways:
Intravenous (IV) infusion: Through a vein
Injection: Into the cerebrospinal fluid that surrounds the brain using a thin tube (ventricular access catheter) inserted through a small hole in the skull and into a ventricle of the brain during a minor surgical procedure
Oral method: By mouth in either pill or liquid form
Among the chemotherapy drugs we use to treat brain tumors are:
Drugs for certain metastatic tumors that are designed for the original cancer such as breast and non-small-cell lung cancer and melanoma
For your infusion treatment, we have infusion centers in three locations, so you can choose the one that’s convenient for you. Our centers are located in the:
Stanford Brain Tumor Center
Stanford Medicine Outpatient Center in Redwood City
Stanford Cancer Center South Bay in San Jose
If you are taking oral chemotherapy drugs, our chemo-trained nurses can teach you and your caregivers how to safely administer your medications at home. We cover how to:
Prepare and take your medications
Safely store medications
Dispose of chemotherapy waste such as packaging, needles, syringes and other supplies