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Targeted therapy may also be used for cancerous brain tumors. Targeted therapy uses different biological pathways to interfere with the ability of cancer cells to grow, divide, and/or spread. The drugs may be able treat tumors that standard chemotherapy drugs cannot reach. These are often chosen based on the type of brain tumor and may be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Targeted therapies for brain tumors include:

  • Bevacizumab—Interferes with the tumor cells' ability to create new blood vessels that help the tumor grow.
  • Everolimus—Interferes with a specific protein that helps a cell grow and divide. This may help shrink the tumor or slow its progression.

Common side effects include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Low blood cell counts, which can lead to anemia and neutropenia
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as loss of appetite or diarrhea
  • Increases in blood pressure, blood sugar, or cholesterol

A variety of treatments are available to help manage side effects including medication, lifestyle changes, and alternative treatments. The earlier the side effects are addressed, the more likely they will be controlled with a minimum of discomfort.


Astrocytoma and oligodentroglioma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 17, 2015. Accessed August 18, 2015.

Brain and spinal cord tumors in adults. American Cancer Society website. Available at: Accessed August 18, 2015.

Lukas RV, Boire A, Nicholas MK. Targeted therapy in the treatment of malignant gliomas. Onco Targets Ther. 2009;2:115-133.

Meningioma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated March 30, 2015. Accessed August 18, 2015.

Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: Updated February 13, 2015. Accessed August 18, 2015.

Last reviewed May 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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