Medicines for a Brain Tumor

Man talking to doctor with pill bottle on table.Brain tumors often cause symptoms that may include headaches, pain, seizures, mood swings, and others. To help you feel better and treat your symptoms, your healthcare provider may prescribe medicine. Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist about possible conflict with other medicines.


Steroids reduce brain swelling. This also helps reduce headaches and pain. Always take them as directed. Do not stop taking them without your healthcare provider’s approval. If you have been taking steroids for more than a few days, don’t stop them right away. You will need to stop taking them slowly over time.

Common side effects can include:

  • Water retention

  • Increased appetite and weight gain

  • Hair growth

  • Insomnia

  • Stomach upset

  • Increased risk of infection

  • Slow wound healing

  • Mood changes

  • Increased blood sugar levels that makes diabetes harder to manage


Anticonvulsants help prevent seizures and convulsions. Always take them as directed. You may have blood tests to make sure you get the right dose.  If you have been taking this medicine for more than a few days, don’t stop it right away. You will need to stop taking them slowly over time.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these side effects: 

  • Trouble breathing

  • Rash

  • Balance problems

  • Dizziness

Talk with your healthcare provider about these and other side effects that may occur. Some serious side effects may be more likely if you are having radiation therapy.

Other medicines

Medicines can help treat side effects caused by the brain tumors or your cancer treatments. These include:

  • Antiemetics to help control nausea and vomiting. There are many options and types of treatment for this. Make sure your provider knows if your medicine is not working well for you.

  • Antacids to control stomach acid

  • Laxatives or stool softeners to treat constipation

  • Pain relievers 

  • Medicine to help with anxiety, stress, or depression

  • Hormones to replace the ones that your body isn’t making as a result of treatment or certain types of tumors