How Chemotherapy Kills Brain Cancer

Every year, 25,050 people will be diagnosed with malignant brain tumors. One option for addressing such an aggressive form of cancer is another, even more aggressive option, called chemotherapy.

This article will focus on what chemotherapy is specifically and how it can have an effect on different brain tumors.

What is Chemotherapy?

Chemotherapy refers to a specific type of drug treatment that kills fast growing cells in your body. While this usually means cancer cells, it also has the side effect of attacking other cells, such as hair.

There are several different types of chemotherapy drugs, and different ways of administering them. For one, there are infusions that are given intravenously. Other methods include pills or capsules, shots, and topical creams.

Schedules for chemotherapy vary, and are dependent on the specific type of cancer being treated. Some may include continuous treatment, while others allow a rest period between sessions to allow the patient to recover.

How is Chemotherapy Adapted Specifically to Brain Tumors?

Chemotherapy drugs circulate through you bloodstream. It is difficult to treat brain tumors because the brain is protected by a blood brain barrier. This barrier acts as a natural filter to safeguard the brain from harmful substances.

One specific way to bypass this is by having an oncologic surgeon put chemotherapy drugs inside a gel wafer that is implanted directly into the brain. This wafer dissolves over a period of 2-3 weeks, allowing the drugs to take affect.

Another method is called an Ommaya reservoir. This reservoir is created by inserting a small, plastic dome in the scalp of the patient. Chemotherapy is then administered by injecting into those fluid filled spaces, once again bypassing the blood brain barrier. This allows for less chemotherapy to be administered per dose.

Chemotherapy can also be administered directly into a patient’s cerebrospinal fluid, the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. A ventricular access catheter is inserted through a hole in the skull directly into a ventricle in the brain.


Brain tumors can be aggressive and deadly. Chemotherapy is used to help kill these cancerous cells, and is adapted in many forms to have the most affect. From gel wafers to artificial reservoirs to ventricular catheters, there are several ways to combat brain cancer that are being utilized today.


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About the Author

Davinia Ibizugbe

Article and Video Coordiantor, The Hope Project (Texas, USA)

Davinia Ibizugbe is a Nigerian writer. She has planned her education around the hopes of becoming a future Neurosurgeon. Her interest in neurology developed early in her life. Davina has a passion for learning about neurological diseases and methods to combat them.

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