As a brain cancer survivor, you get ongoing, personalized care at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center long after your cancer treatment is finished. This is called survivorship care, and it allows us to keep a close eye on your health, manage any side effects, and make sure cancer hasn’t returned.
Your follow-up visits include a physical exam and any necessary tests, such as imaging exams or blood tests. You get expert advice and care to feel your best – whether you need guidance on nutrition, support from a medical social worker, or other assistance, you can depend on us.
What can I expect as a brain tumor survivor?
It’s natural to feel anxious and uncertain about your health, and we’re here to help. You have an experienced team on your side – Sylvester has one of the largest, most comprehensive teams for brain tumor treatment in the country.
As part of your survivorship care, you receive a personalized survivorship care plan based on input from your cancer care team. This detailed document gives you and your healthcare providers information about your cancer treatments and a schedule of upcoming and recommended follow-up visits. You also get healthy living tips and learn about local and national resources to help you and your family. We make sure you know about all our cancer support services and education available to you, including support for caregivers.
Managing brain tumor treatment side effects
Brain tumor treatment may cause side effects, depending on the tumor’s location and the type of treatment you receive. For example, you may feel dizzy or confused at times, or you may have memory problems – this isn’t unusual during recovery.
Your survivorship care team will talk to you about all possible side effects, including those that continue after treatment (long-term side effects) or may appear years later (late side effects). We make sure you know what to expect and offer the latest approaches to relieve symptoms – including working with other specialists throughout the University of Miami Health System.
Brain surgery side effects
During brain surgery recovery, there's often swelling in the brain that can cause dizziness, confusion, and headaches. These symptoms may go away after a period, but some symptoms may be long-term – depending on the location and extent of surgery. Your doctor will talk to you about potential changes and how to manage them.
Chemotherapy side effects
Most chemotherapy side effects usually go away after you finish treatment. In rare instances, some medicines can cause hearing loss. Other medication may damage the kidneys, so your doctor will take extra steps to protect your kidneys.
Brain radiation treatment side effects
Some brain radiation side effects are noticeable during treatment, but others may not happen until six months or years after treatment has finished. These can include memory loss, difficulty thinking, or stroke-like symptoms – such as facial drooping, arm weakness, or slurred speech. Our rehabilitation team can help.
Cognitive rehabilitation after brain cancer treatment
Brain tumors and treatment can affect the way your brain functions, so you may see a neuropsychologist for testing to evaluate your cognitive and functional abilities. The cancer and its treatment can cause problems with communication, concentration, and memory. You may also have changes to your behavior, mood, and personality, which can be treated with medicines and mental health counseling.
Our cognitive rehabilitation specialists create a personalized treatment plan to help you regain as much of your mental abilities as possible. Our neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, speech-language therapists, and other rehabilitation therapists help you learn new skills and different ways of doing things to overcome challenges.
If you have physical symptoms – such as pain, balance problems, or speech or swallowing difficulties – our physical rehabilitation experts are experienced at helping cancer survivors regain function and feel better.
How can I learn more about long-term follow-up care for brain tumor survivors?
Follow-up care is essential to keeping you healthy and ensuring you have the highest quality of life possible. To learn more about our survivorship care program and personalized services for brain cancer survivors, email us at SCCCSURVIVORSHIP@miami.edu.