Chemotherapy wafer implants (Gliadel wafers)
Wafer implants are a new way of giving chemotherapy for brain tumours. The wafer is made of gel that contains a chemotherapy drug. During brain surgery to remove some or all of a tumour, the doctor places up to 8 wafers in the space where the tumour was. Over the next few days, the wafers slowly release a chemotherapy drug called carmustine (BCNU) into this area. The wafers dissolve between 2 to 3 weeks after they are put in.
Some clinical trials have shown that using chemotherapy wafers as well as surgery and radiotherapy helps people with glioma live longer. At the moment wafers are licensed for people with either
The Scottish Medicines Consortium have approved Gliadel wafers for newly diagnosed high grade glioma, alongside surgery and radiotherapy. And the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommend that Gliadel wafers can be used after removal of 90% or more of a newly diagnosed, high grade glioma.
Studies so far have shown that people who have chemotherapy wafers manage with them quite well. But like any chemotherapy treatment, they do have side effects. These include
- Feeling and being sick
- Skin rash
- Hair loss
- Forgetfulness or sleepiness
- Mood changes
- Feeling weak and lacking in energy
There are also side effects after surgery to the brain. Some of these side effects are slightly more likely to happen if you have chemotherapy wafers put in during your surgery. These side effects include weakness or paralysis on one side of your body and convulsions or fits. But whether you have these side effects will depend more on the position of your tumour, and on the exact nature of the operation you have. Your brain surgery wound may also take a bit longer to heal if you have Gliadel wafer treatment.
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