Chemotherapy is given through an injection or as a pill to kill or slow down the growth of cancer cells.
The chemotherapy drug temozolomide (Temodar®) is usually given along with radiation to treat gliomas. This drug is taken as a pill. It sensitizes tumors to the radiation, making it more effective. People with a high-grade glioma may need a second course of temozolomide. This additional dose is usually taken for a minimum of six months after radiation is completed.
The drug bevacizumab (Avastin®) is sometimes used to treat gliomas. This drug works by blocking the growth of new blood vessels that nourish the tumor. Bevacizumab is usually used after a tumor returns and can be very effective at easing symptoms. It is rarely used as part of the initial treatment.
Targeted drugs are directed toward particular mutations in cancer cells. Several are actively being studied as potential glioma treatments. Right now, they are still investigational. That means they are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treating gliomas:
- Savolitinib works by blocking the c-MET protein, which some cancers use to grow. It is taken as a pill.
- Terameprocol interferes with the growth and reproduction of cancer cells by blocking proteins that these cells create to reproduce rapidly. It is given by IV.
- Ivosidenib (Tibsovo®) blocks an abnormal form of a protein called IDH1, which is known to drive some cancers, and vorasidenib blocks mutated forms of both the IDH1 and IDH2 proteins. Both drugs are taken as pills.
- Veliparib works by blocking a protein that repairs DNA damage in cancer cells. It is taken as a pill.
- Abemaciclib (Verzenio®) is designed to inhibit cancer growth by blocking cyclin-dependent kinases. Cancer cells need these enzymes to grow and divide. It is taken as a pill.