Surgery may damage normal brain tissue, and edema may occur. Seizures, weakness, coordination problems, personality changes and difficulty in speaking or thinking may result. Most side effects of surgery lessen or disappear with time.
Radiation may cause fatigue and hair loss, which may be temporary or permanent. Skin reaction in the treated area is common. The scalp and ears may be red, itchy or dark; these areas may feel and look sunburned. Patients should not use lotions without doctor advice. Sometimes radiation may cause headache, memory loss or seizures because the brain cells killed by radiation may form a mass that causes pressure. Doctors may suggest surgery or steroids to relieve these problems. Patients may have fatigue and lose their appetite four to eight weeks after radiation; this may last for several weeks, but it will usually go away. Children who have radiation treatments may have learning problems and partial loss of eyesight, or they may not grow or develop normally.
Chemotherapy side effects depend on the drugs used. Patients may experience lower resistance to infection, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, less energy and hair loss. These side effects usually go away after treatment. Some chemotherapy causes sterility. Some chemotherapy can cause kidney damage, so patients may be given large amounts of fluid while taking these drugs. Patients may also have tingling in fingers, ringing in ears or difficulty hearing. These problems may not clear up after treatment.
Steroids reduce swelling in the brain and may cause increased appetite, weight gain or swelling of the face and feet. Steroids can also cause restlessness, mood swings, burning indigestion, acne and elevated glucose. The steroid treatment must be gradually stopped so the body can adjust.