Modafinil continues to find novel applications in medicine. New research is being conducted based on a 2012 study that found modafinil useful for helping patients with brain tumors. Doctors diagnose over 70,000 brain tumors every year. Roughly 1/3 of them are malignant. In either case, brain tumors present unique complications for patients.
How modafinil helps patients with brain tumors
Modafinil itself won’t remove a tumor. You need serious chemotherapy or radiation treatments to do that. But there are two ways that modafinil can contribute to a patient’s recovery and quality of life.
Reducing the side effects of tumor treatment
First, modafinil helps to alleviate some of the symptoms of tumor treatment. Chemotherapy patients, for instance, experience extreme fatigue and exhaustion, which can make even basic tasks a chore. The extra energy that modafinil grants can offset the negative side effects of treatment. The result is that the patient is usually able to take on more treatments, helping them get better sooner.
Softening the Symptoms of Brain Tumors
The second, and the most interesting benefit of modafinil in tumor patients, is cognitive. Modafinil’s cognitive effects are the main reason the drug sells so well. Brain tumors can directly impact a person’s cognitive abilities, as does the treatment.
Many brain tumor patients find it difficult to think clearly, or suffer unusual mood swings. Memory also degrades in many cases. The brain is very sensitive and doctors still don’t fully understand how it works. But it’s pretty clear that a foreign object in the brain is not good. Tumors, depending on where they are, can disrupt normal brain functions. Imagine how frustrating it would be to feel your power to think slip away. Doctors are constantly searching for a way to help patients stay mentally strong while undergoing treatment.
With that in mind, this study compared modafinil to Ritalin and found that both were about equally effective in improving cognitive function, but modafinil produced fewer side effects. The patients who had deteriorated the most also benefited the most. While it was a small study, the researchers believe that the results would hold up in a wider investigation.
What you should do
Of course, if you or someone you know is dealing with a brain tumor, you never start any treatment without consulting a doctor first. In delicate situations like these people often feel helpless and desperate, willing to try anything. But going rogue can lead to more problems, especially if drugs interact in the wrong way.
We’re still a long way from curing cancer, but at least with modafinil patients can improve their recovery process and increase their quality of life.