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Lifestyle Changes to Manage Brain Tumors

Some brain tumors may have minimum or no side effects while others can impair the ability to do daily life activities. Lifestyle changes may help manage these side effects as well as cope with the stress of chronic conditions.

General Guidelines

  • Seizure precautions
  • Loss of function or coordination
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Personality changes
  • Seek support
  • Comfort measures

Seizure Precautions

Operating hazardous equipment, including motor vehicles, may be restricted if seizures can not be properly managed. Most state laws mandate against driving a motor vehicle (specifically a car or truck on a public road) for a minimum of 6 months from the date of your last seizure. Commercial driver licenses may be revoked for those with a brain tumor.

A social worker can help arrange services to provide rides or other activities that may be hazardous, such as mowing the lawn. Use your employer's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or human resources department to be reassigned for new tasks if your job requires managing heavy or hazardous equipment or supplies. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), your employer must make accommodations for you.

Loss of Function or Coordination

Some tumors can affect the coordination of the hands, arms, legs, or eyes. Usual activities, like working with knives or powertools, may become dangerous. Speech, occupational, and/or physical therapy can help regain some losses of function or coordination or find tools to help with daily activities.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Thought processes, such as memory, calculation, understanding, and intelligence, can deteriorate until the tumor is treated effectively. Let those close to you know that you may have trouble in certain areas. Ask them to be on the lookout for changes and to help minimize any consequences from these changes.

Personality Changes

In the same manner, your personality may change. If you feel comfortable, advise your family, friends, and your employer of the brain tumor. This may help to minimize misunderstandings. As with cognitive dysfunction, have those close to you be on the lookout for changes.

Seek Support

The diagnosis of cancer is a life-defining event. Facing the uncertainty of a serious disease, feeling anxious about how you will feel during treatment, lifestyle changes, and worrying about the impact of both the diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming. It is important to rely on family, friends, and other people in your life. People who allow themselves to seek help while they are managing illnesses can often maintain better emotional balance. Other sources of support include:

  • Religious community
  • Support groups for people with brain tumors
  • Professional support such as social workers, psychologists, and/or psychiatrists who are trained to help patients and their families

Comfort Measures

Brain tumors found in advances stages can be harder to treat. Some people choose treatments to ease cancer complications or choose to stop treatment completely. Depending on your circumstances, it may be realistic to begin end-of-life planning. Considerations may include:

  • Choosing home or hospice care
  • Financial decisions
  • Advance directives—includes legal issues, like wills, hospital orders for your care, and power of attorney for medical care and finances
  • Insurance coverage

If you need guidance, talk to a member of your healthcare team. You can be referred to a trained professional to guide you through the process.

Revision Information

  • About brain tumors: A primer for patients and caregivers. American Brain Tumor Association website. Available at: http://www.abta.org/secure/about-brain-tumors-a-primer.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2015.

  • Adult brain tumors treatment (PDQ). National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/brain/patient/adult-brain-treatment-pdq#section/%5F102. Updated February 13, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2015.

  • Astrocytoma and oligodentroglioma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116413/Astrocytoma-and-oligodendroglioma-in-adults. Updated May 13, 2016. Accessed September 23, 2016.

  • Brain and spinal cord tumors in adults. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003088-pdf.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2015.

  • Brain and spinal cord tumors in children. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003089-pdf.pdf. Accessed August 17, 2015.

  • Meningioma. EBSCO Plus DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116926/Meningioma. Updated April 29, 2016. Accessed May 10, 2016.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. TriStar Health does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.