Life after treatment for brain cancer
For most people, the cancer experience doesn’t end on the last day of treatment. Life after cancer treatment can present its own challenges. You may have mixed feelings when treatment ends, and worry that every ache and pain means the cancer is coming back.
Some people say that they feel pressure to return to “normal life”. It is important to allow yourself time to adjust to the physical and emotional changes, and establish a new daily routine at your own pace. Your family and friends may also need time to adjust.
Cancer Council 13 11 20 can help you connect with other people who have had cancer, and provide you with information about the emotional and practical aspects of living well after cancer.
For more on this, see Living well after cancer
Learn more about:
- Follow-up appointments
- Dealing with feelings of sadness
- Looking after yourself
- What if the tumour returns?
After treatment ends, you will have regular appointments to monitor your health, manage any long-term side effects and check that the tumour hasn’t come back or spread. During these check-ups, you will usually have a physical examination and you may have blood tests or MRI scans.
How often you see your doctor will depend on the type of tumour and treatments you had. Between follow-up appointments, let your doctor know immediately of any symptoms or health problems.
When a follow-up appointment or test is approaching, you may find that you feel anxious. Talk to your treatment team or call Cancer Council 13 11 20 if you are finding it hard to manage this anxiety.
Dealing with feelings of sadness
If you have continued feelings of sadness, have trouble getting up in the morning or have lost motivation to do things that previously gave you pleasure, you may be experiencing depression. This is quite common among people who have had cancer.
Talk to your GP, because counselling or medication – even for a short time – may help. Some people can get a Medicare rebate for sessions with a psychologist. Cancer Council may also run a counselling program in your area.
The Thing About Cancer
Listen to our podcast The Thing About Cancer for information and insights that can help you navigate through the challenges of living with cancer.
Looking after yourself
Cancer can cause physical and emotional strain, so it’s important to look after your wellbeing. Cancer Council has free booklets and programs to help you during and after treatment.
Call 13 11 20 to find out more, or see Managing cancer side effects, Exercise after a cancer diagnosis, Complementary therapies, Emotions and cancer, Nutrition and cancer, Sexuality, intimacy and cancer, Fertility and cancer, and Living well after cancer.
Alternative therapies are therapies used instead of conventional medical treatments. These are unlikely to be scientifically tested, may prevent successful treatment of the cancer and can be harmful. Cancer Council does not recommend the use of alternative therapies as a cancer treatment.
What if the tumour returns?
For some people, a brain or spinal cord tumour does come back or keep growing despite treatment. If the tumour returns, this is known as a recurrence.
Treatment options if the tumour returns
Your treatment options will depend on your situation and the treatments you’ve already had, but may include surgery, radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy, or targeted therapy.
Targeted therapy drugs attack specific features of cancer cells. Bevacizumab is a targeted therapy drug that can be used to treat advanced brain cancer. It is given through a drip into a vein in repeated cycles. Bevacizumab is most helpful when the tumour is causing brain swelling. Your doctor will talk to you about the risks and benefits.
Podcast: Meditation – Awareness of breathing
A/Prof Lindy Jeffree, Neurosurgeon, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, QLD; Emma Daly, Neuro-oncology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Cabrini Health, VIC; A/Prof Andrew Davidson, Neurosurgeon, Victorian Gamma Knife Service, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Department of Neurosurgery, Royal Melbourne Hospital, VIC; Beth Doggett, Consumer; Kate Fernandez, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Melissa Harrison, Allied Health Manager and Senior Neurological Physiotherapist, Advance Rehab Centre, NSW; A/Prof Rosemary Harrup, Director, Cancer and Blood Services, Royal Hobart Hospital, TAS; A/Prof Eng-Siew Koh, Radiation Oncologist, Liverpool Cancer Therapy Centre, Liverpool Hospital and University of New South Wales, NSW; Andy Stokes, Consumer.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Exercise and cancer
Exercise helps most people during cancer treatment. Find out which exercises are best for you, and watch our series of exercise videos
Relaxation and meditation
Learn how relaxation and mediation can help you both during and after cancer treatment, or listen to our relaxation and meditation audio tracks