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Symptoms and Side Effects of Brain Tumor Treatment

Woman giving medication to girl. Girl is wearing hat.Brain tumors often cause symptoms that may include increased pressure in your brain, headaches, pain, seizures, mood swings, and others. To help you feel better and treat your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe medications. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about possible interaction with other medications.


Steroids reduce brain swelling which also helps reduce headache and pain. Always take them as directed. Do not stop taking them without your doctor’s approval.

Common side effects can include water retention, increased appetite and weight gain, hair growth, insomnia, stomach upset, increased risk of infection, slow wound healing, and mood changes. Steroids can increase blood sugar levels and make diabetes more difficult to manage.


Anticonvulsants help prevent seizures or convulsions. Always take them as directed. You will have blood tests to make sure you get the right dosage.

Call the doctor right away if you have any of these side effects: trouble breathing, rash, balance problems, or dizziness. Some serious side effects of anticonvulsants may be more likely if you are having radiation therapy.

Other medications

Medications can help prevent side effects of certain treatments for brain tumor, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

  • Antiemetics to control nausea and vomiting. There are many options and types of treatment for this. Make sure your provider knows if your medicine is not working effectively for you.

  • Antacids to control stomach acid

  • Laxatives or stool softeners to treat constipation

  • Medications to control pain

  • Medications to help with anxiety, stress, or depression

  • Hormones to replace the ones that your body isn’t producing as a result of treatment or to treat certain types of tumors

Online Medical Reviewer: Hanrahan, John, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Last Review Date: 9/26/2013
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