How Are Brain Lesions Treated?
Treatment options for brain lesions are often complicated and usually are decided by a team of physicians with the consent of the patient or the patient's representative. The treatment for some conditions, such as bacterial meningitis, are generally straightforward and require the use of antibiotics and steroids. However, other brain lesions may require extensive medical and surgical treatment. For example, many patients may need to undergo brain surgery to relieve pressure on the brain, to repair an aneurysm, to remove a tumor or to evacuate blood that is compressing against brain tissue. The treatment for stroke depends on the early recognition of stroke symptoms and may, in some cases, be treated with anti-clotting agents such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to restore blood flow to oxygen-deprived brain tissue. However, with these treatments, there are risks and potential complications (as described in the Complications section).
Brain cancer lesions often times require the most complex treatment. Treatment plans are generally designed by a team of physicians taking into account the individual needs and wishes of the patient. This treatment plan is based on the patient's age and overall condition, the type of cancer, the grade of cancer, whether it is metastatic, and the expected response and success rate seen with the particular cancer type. Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the mainstays of treatment for brain cancer. Some patients may require one type of therapy, whereas other patients may need two or all three types of treatment for their brain cancer. Patients and their physicians need to discuss all the proposed treatments and their inherent risks and side effects before deciding on which treatments are appropriate and desired.
Other brain lesions are more difficult to treat because the treatments, at best, do not cure the disease but only reduce the symptoms or slow the advancement of the disease. Most of the genetic, immune, brain cell death, plaque forming, and ionizing radiation brain lesions are in this category. The classic example is Alzheimer's disease (plaque forming and brain cell death), which can be treated with several different medications that may delay its progression and slow the behavioral changes seen with the disease. As with brain cancer, treatment regimens are individually designed for each patient with these diseases. Most of these diseases are treated with medications only, though there are a few exceptions such as the mixed types of diseases (genetic and vascular, as are found in some aneurysm formations).
Every patient usually has an individualized treatment protocol. Even though patients may share the same diagnosis, their treatment protocols may be quite different depending on various factors such as age, overall medical health, and the severity of the brain lesions. If patients or their families have questions or concerns about certain aspects of their treatment, they should seek answers from their treatment team members, or seek a second opinion from other qualified physicians.