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How Does Gliadel Work?

Gliadel is part of a group of medications called alkylating agents. In general, alkylating agents transfer a piece of their structure, called an alkyl group, to DNA. This causes the strands of DNA to bond to each other and become linked (known as "cross-linking"). The linked strands are unable to uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to replicate. Because DNA replication is essential for cells to grow and multiply, alkylating medications like Gliadel prevent cell growth and multiplication.
Gliadel comes as a small, dime-sized wafer that is surgically implanted into the brain. The wafers are placed into the space that remains after a brain tumor is removed. Once implanted, the wafers begin to dissolve and release the medication carmustine, the active ingredient in Gliadel, directly into the area.

When and How to Use It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with Gliadel include the following:
  • This medication comes in the form of a small wafer that is placed in the brain during surgery to remove a brain tumor.
  • Gliadel wafers are placed along the floor and sides of the cavity created in the brain after a tumor is removed.
  • Up to eight wafers can be placed at a time, enough to cover as much of the cavity as possible. The wafers can overlap slightly. They can also be broken in half, but should not be broken into more than two pieces.
  • For Gliadel to work properly, it must be used as prescribed.

Dosing Information

The dose of Gliadel your healthcare provider recommends will vary, depending on the size of the space left in the brain after your tumor is removed (click Gliadel Dosage for more information).
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