Skip to main content

ACS & ASCO are Stronger Together: Cancer.Net content is now available on


Other Drug Treatments for Adult Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors

On this page

Some drugs commonly used in people with brain or spinal cord tumors do not treat the tumors directly, but they may help lessen symptoms caused by the tumor or its treatment.


Corticosteroid drugs such as dexamethasone (Decadron) are often given to reduce swelling around brain tumors. This may help relieve headaches and other symptoms.

Anti-seizure drugs (anticonvulsants)

Drugs may also be given to lower the chance of seizures in people with brain tumors. Different anti-seizure drugs can be used. Because many of these drugs can affect how other drugs such as chemotherapy work in the body, they are not usually given unless the tumor has caused seizures.


The pituitary gland helps control the levels of many different hormones in the body. If the pituitary gland is damaged by the tumor itself or by tumor treatments (such as surgery or radiation therapy), you may need to take pituitary hormones or other hormones to replace those missing.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Dorsey JF, Salinas RD, Dang M, et al. Chapter 63: Cancer of the central nervous system. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier; 2020.

National Cancer Institute Physician Data Query (PDQ). Adult Central Nervous System Tumors Treatment. 2020. Accessed at on February 17, 2020.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Central Nervous System Cancers. V.3.2019. Accessed at on February 17, 2020.

Last Revised: May 5, 2020

American Cancer Society Emails

Sign up to stay up-to-date with news, valuable information, and ways to get involved with the American Cancer Society.