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What Is Carmustine Implant Used For?

If you have certain types of brain tumors, your healthcare provider may recommend chemotherapy treatment with carmustine implants. This prescription medication comes in the form of wafers that are placed in the cavity that remains after brain tumors are surgically removed. These wafers dissolve and release medication that prevents cancer cells from growing and multiplying. Carmustine implants are approved for use in adults only.

An Overview of Uses for the Carmustine Implant

Carmustine implant (Gliadel®) is a prescription medication used in addition to surgery and radiation therapy to treat newly diagnosed cancerous brain tumors known medically as malignant gliomas. It is also approved for use in combination with surgery to treat glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive type of brain tumor.

Carmustine Implant Use for Malignant Gliomas

Tumors that begin in brain tissue are known as primary brain tumors. They differ from secondary brain tumors, which begin in another part of the body but spread to the brain. Primary brain tumors are far less common than secondary brain tumors.
Primary tumors are named according to the type of cells or the part of the brain in which they begin. The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, which begin in glial cells. Glial cells are brain cells that support the function of the nerve cells (cells that transmit nerve impulses, also called neurons). When people say "brain cancer," they usually are referring to a glioma.
Brain tumors are classified into four grades (grade I, II, III, and IV), which can help healthcare providers plan a treatment regimen and predict the likely outcome of the tumor. The grade of a tumor describes how aggressive it is. Grade III and IV tumors are considered high-grade gliomas. They generally grow and spread faster than grade I or II gliomas. High-grade gliomas are also called malignant gliomas. Malignant means that the tumor contains cancerous cells.
There are many different types of high-grade gliomas, including:
  • Anaplastic astrocytoma
  • Anaplastic oligodendroglioma
  • Anaplastic ependymoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme.
The symptoms of a brain tumor depend primarily on how large the tumor is, where it is located, and how quickly it is growing. However, some of the more common symptoms of high-grade gliomas include:
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in speech, vision, or hearing
  • Problems with memory
  • Mood or personality changes
  • Seizures.
Treatment for gliomas normally includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. During surgery, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible, without harming healthy brain tissue. The carmustine implant is a type of chemotherapy used in combination with surgery and radiation therapy to treat newly diagnosed gliomas. It is implanted into the brain in the space that remains after the brain tumor is removed.
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Carmustine Implant Information

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