Living with Metastatic Brain Cancer

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Psychologist Timothy Ahles says cancer treatment can make it difficult for some people to perform everyday activities.
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At Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, we know that even after you’ve finished your cancer treatments, you may still need our help. We’re committed to supporting you in every way we can — physically, emotionally, spiritually, and otherwise — for as long as you need us.

After surgery or other treatment for brain metastases, your doctors will perform an MRI scan to determine how much of the tumor is gone. This information can help us update your plan of care. Since brain tumors and related side effects can come back after treatment, your treatment team will want to see you regularly for follow-up exams. If you experience any new symptoms, please see your doctor right away.

A Focus on You

At MSK, we believe that treating you as a whole person, not just your disease, is the best way to care for you. We’re also here to support your family members as they cope with your diagnosis. We understand that having a tumor that affects the brain can be overwhelming, and we are always available to help address the needs and concerns of you and your loved ones.

We offer a range of support programs designed to help patients and family members cope with issues related to life during and after treatment. Our Survivorship Center has many services for you and your loved ones, including support groups, follow-up programs, and educational resources.

Plus, our Resources for Life After Cancer program offers individual and family counseling, lectures and support groups, and practical guidance on employment and insurance issues, among other services. Visit the Survivorship Center to learn more.

Counseling and Support

Sometimes, you and your loved ones just need someone to talk to — someone who’s trained to help you make sense of your experience before, during, and after treatment for cancer.

Our Counseling Center offers both individual and group counseling sessions to help you and your family cope with your disease. These sessions can be a healthy, productive way to work through the stress and anxiety that are sometimes a part of treatment and recovery.

Learn more about how we can support your emotional well-being.

Brain Tumor Support Group

MSK hosts a support group specifically for people who have had or currently have brain tumors. Led by our social workers, nurses, and psychologists, these sessions can help you adjust to life during and after treatment. They also offer you and your family and caregivers a chance to express yourself, learn from others’ experiences, exchange ideas, and seek support.

Learn about upcoming meetings in our calendar.

Managing Seizures

Seizures are common in people with brain tumors, even after they’ve been treated. Depending on where your tumor is located, it can cause temporary problems in consciousness, movement, or speech.

Your doctor can usually prescribe antiseizure medication. If you take chemotherapy drugs, your doctor may be able to prescribe antiseizure medications that minimize the chance of a dangerous drug interaction. Our doctors can use an electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor the electrical activity of your brain waves. EEGs can often be done in a routine visit to your neurologist.

If you continue to experience seizures, your neurologist may need to continuously monitor your brain waves with an ambulatory EEG. You’ll wear a special brain-wave monitor for up to 72 hours. You can go about your routine while the monitor records data. Sometimes, EEG monitoring may need to be done at MSK in one of our specially equipped rooms. In-hospital EEGs allow our neurologists to visualize your movements during seizures and provide round-the-clock care.

Integrative Medicine

Medical treatments are the best way to treat your cancer. Their whole purpose is to get you healthy again. But at MSK, we know that complementary services can also help soothe and heal not only your body but also your mind and spirit.

Our Integrative Medicine Service can be a valuable part of your formal treatment plan. Programs we offer include massage, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, visualization, music therapy, and nutritional counseling. Formal classes include yoga, tai chi, and chair aerobics.

Learn more about the variety of complementary services we offer.

Older Patients

Cancer and its treatment are a challenge for anyone, regardless of age. But if you’re over 65, you may face unique issues that only affect people in your age group. We’re committed to providing cancer patients of all ages with the treatment, facilities, and support they need.

Your treatment team will include healthcare professionals who have the specialized training and experience to effectively treat older patients. Every aspect of your care — diagnosis, treatment, recovery, support — will be tailored to meet your particular needs.

Learn more about how we care for older patients.

Supportive Care and Pain Management

At Memorial Sloan Kettering, we focus on all aspects of comprehensive cancer care, not just treating the disease. Our specialists in supportive care can help you cope with the side effects of therapy. These include pain, nausea, and fatigue. We can also help with the emotional and spiritual needs that often come up during and after cancer treatment.

Learn more about how our Supportive Care Service can help you throughout the cancer experience.

If you are in pain during your treatments or even after they’re over, we have pain specialists who can help. We will build a plan that makes sense for you and your needs. Our experts can work with your doctor and pharmacists to give you solutions for both acute physical pain, which comes on suddenly, as well as chronic pain, which can linger. Our goal is to keep you as comfortable as possible.

Learn more about how we can relieve your pain.