Cancer of the Brain and Nervous System Discharge Information
Cancer of the Brain and Nervous System Discharge Information
What is cancer of the brain and nervous system?
Cancer of the brain and nervous system is an abnormal growth of cells that form tumors in the brain cells, spinal cord cells, nerve cells, or cells that support the brain and spinal cord (called glial cells). If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it is still brain or nervous system cancer, and is called metastatic brain or metastatic nervous system cancer.
There are different types and stages of brain and nervous system cancer based on what kind of cancer cells are found, where the tumor started and where it has spread. Knowing the type and stage of brain and nervous system cancer helps your healthcare provider decide on the best treatment plan for you. It is important to diagnose and treat brain and nervous system cancer as soon as possible. The main goals of treatment are to kill the tumor cells, prevent a localized cancer from spreading, and prevent metastatic cancer from spreading more than it already has.
The exact cause of cancer of the brain and nervous system is not known. However, there are several things that increase your risk for these types of cancers. These include inherited cancer genes, previous radiation to the brain or spinal cord, a family history of certain cancers, or immune system problems.
How can I take care of myself when I go home?
How long it takes to get better depends on the type and stage of cancer, your treatment, how well you recover, your overall health, and any complications you may have.
Your provider will give you a list of your medicines when you leave the hospital.
Know your medicines. Know what they look like, how much you should take each time, how often you should take them, and why you take each one.
Take your medicines exactly as your provider tells you to.
Carry a list of your medicines in your wallet or purse. Include any nonprescription medicines and supplements on the list.
Talk to your provider before you use any other medicines, including nonprescription medicines.
Your provider may also prescribe medicine to:
Treat or prevent an infection
Treat or prevent anemia, which means you have too few red blood cells to carry enough oxygen to your body. Anemia may be caused by your cancer, your treatment, or other problems.
Reduce swelling in the brain
Treat or prevent side effects, such as nausea or constipation, from other treatments
Help your immune system fight cancer
If you have had surgery, to care for your incision:
Keep your incision clean.
If you are told to change the dressing on your incision, wash your hands before changing the dressing and after disposing of the dressing.
Follow activity restrictions, such as not driving or operating machinery, as recommended by your healthcare provider or pharmacist, especially if you are taking pain medicines or muscle relaxants.
You may need to continue a rehabilitation program after you leave the hospital to help you adjust to any problems caused by the tumor or surgery. Most rehabilitation programs include:
Physical therapy to help you regain muscle strength and teach you ways to move safely
Occupational therapy to help you relearn ways to do the tasks that you previously did.
Speech therapy to help you if you have problems with swallowing, speaking, or understanding words.
Take care of your health. Try to get at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Eat a healthy diet and try to keep a healthy weight. If you smoke, try to quit. If you want to drink alcohol, ask your healthcare provider how much is safe for you to drink. Learn ways to manage stress. Exercise according to your healthcare provider’s instructions.
You may need other treatments for your cancer after you leave the hospital. Treatments may include:
Chemotherapy (anticancer drugs), which uses medicine to kill cancer cells. Different types of chemotherapy may be given in the hospital, outpatient clinic, or at home.
Radiation therapy, which uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation treatment may be done in the hospital or and outpatient clinic.
Follow your provider’s instructions for follow-up appointments and routine tests.
Keep appointments for all other testing you may need, which may be done to look for signs that the cancer has returned or has spread. Testing may include:
Blood tests to check for certain hormones, proteins, or chemicals that may be high if you have cancer
Bone X-rays: Pictures of your bones to check for cancer
Chest X-ray: Pictures of the inside of your chest to check for cancer
Computed tomography (CT) scan: A series of X-rays taken from different angles and arranged by a computer to show thin cross sections of the brain, spinal cord, and other areas where the cancer may have spread
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A powerful magnetic field and radio waves are used to take pictures from different angles to show thin cross sections of the brain, spinal cord, and other areas where the cancer may have spread
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan: A series of detailed pictures that are taken after your healthcare provider injects a small amount of radioactive material into your blood. The scan shows areas where the radioactive material is being absorbed.
Talk with your provider about any questions or concerns you have.
Call emergency medical services or 911 if you have new or worsening:
Severe or sudden headache
Vision changes or loss
Trouble speaking or understanding
Weakness or paralysis
Do not drive yourself if you have any of these symptoms.
Call your healthcare provider if you have new or worsening:
Nausea or vomiting
Signs of infection around your surgical wound. These include:
The area around your wound is more red or painful
Your wound area is very warm to touch
You have blood, pus, or other fluid coming from the wound area
You have a fever of 100.5 degrees F (38.1 degrees C) or higher
You have chills or muscle aches
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Loss of balance or coordination
Change in vision, such as double vision, blurred vision, or trouble seeing out of one or both eyes
Headache that will not go away after treatment
Irritability or restlessness
Trouble thinking clearly
Confusion or change in behavior
Hallucinations, which may be visual or involve other senses, such as hearing, touching, tasting or seeing something that is not really there
National Cancer Instituteâ€™s Cancer Information Service 1-800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237) http://www.cancer.gov
Developed by RelayHealth.
Acute Care Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-12-19 Last reviewed: 2014-12-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Cancer of the Brain and Nervous System Discharge Information: References