What is Gleolan for?
Gleolan is known as an ‘imaging agent’ that is taken by patients before surgery to help neurosurgeons to see certain brain tumors, known as “high-grade gliomas”.
Is there anyone who should not take Gleolan?
You should not take Gleolan if you have an allergy to any medicine containing aminolevulinic acid hydrochloride or if you have a condition called porphyria.
Tell your doctor about any allergies or conditions that you have and mention all medications that you are currently taking. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or suspect that you may be pregnant, let your doctor know. Your doctor can discuss with you the risks and benefits involved.
Are there any side effects to taking Gleolan?
Even though the active chemical in Gleolan is already in your body, you may experience some side effects from Gleolan. Tell your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms or reactions.
The type of reactions that occurred in some patients in the week after surgery were fever (pyrexia), decrease in blood pressure (hypotension), nausea and vomiting.
Disorders that affect the nervous system happened in a small percentage of patients in the first weeks after surgery. These included: a total or partial loss of ability to use or understand language (aphasia), partial paralysis of one side of the body (hemiparesis), blindness for half the field of vision in one or both eyes (hemianopsia), headache, seizure, paralysis of one side of the body (hemiplegia), paralysis of a single limp (monoparesis), and reduced sense of touch (hypoesthesia). Swelling of the brain (brain edema) occurred in a small percentage of patients in the first 6 weeks after surgery. Neurologic events related to the surgical procedure occurred in 29% of patients and included headache, seizure, moderate loss of sensory and motor function and swelling of the brain (brain edema). The changes in neurological function returned to the same as the non-treated group during the weeks after surgery.
Inflammation or damage to your liver is possible within the first week after surgery (and may continue beyond 6 weeks). This should be monitored carefully by your doctor.
How is Gleolan administered?
Your doctor and the team in the hospital will determine how much Gleolan you should take, based on your body weight, and will prepare a Gleolan solution for you to drink 3 hours (between 2 and 4 hours) before you receive anesthesia. Be sure to carefully follow all directions given to you by your doctor and nursing team. The liquid is clear/yellowish and has a sour taste.
When was Gleolan approved?
Gleolan was approved in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017. In other countries, it was approved as early as 2007. To date, more than 60,000 patients have received the drug worldwide.1
Is Gleolan covered by insurance?
Gleolan is considered part of the surgical procedure and is covered through payment to the hospital. Contact your healthcare insurer with questions regarding coverage of Gleolan.
What is photosensitivity?
Gleolan makes you more sensitive to sunlight and direct indoor lighting, referred to as photosensitivity, and can cause a sunburn-type reaction. The hospital team will make sure you are kept in low light conditions from the time you take Gleolan until you are discharged. You should maintain these low light conditions at home and avoid sunlight, until 48 hours from the time you took Gleolan. You may wish to bring a hat, sunglasses and clothing to the hospital so that your body can be completely covered when you are discharged.
You will also need to avoid certain drugs that may worsen a potential sunburn-type reaction (such as St. John’s wort, griseofulvin, thiazide diuretics, sulfonylureas, phenothiazines, sulphonamides, quinolones, and tetracyclines) and do not put anything on your skin that contains ALA for 24 hours before and for 24 hours after taking Gleolan. As your medical team if you have any questions about this.
Will Gleolan (aminolevulinic acid HCl) affect treatment that I receive after surgery?
Use of Gleolan does not affect the use of treatments for your cancer, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Does Gleolan treat the cancer?
Gleolan is not a treatment for cancer. Its use, as approved by the FDA, is to assist the neurosurgeon during surgery to see the brain tumor to enable safe removal of as much of it as possible.
For more patient resources, information, and support for primary brain tumors, we encourage you to visit the following links:
1. Stummer et al. 2010.
Preparing For Surgery
- Before your procedure, ask your physician and treatment team any questions you have about the process.
- Talk to friends, family, and other caregivers so they’re informed as well.
- Certain drugs may make you more sensitive to sunlight and direct indoor lighting (please see info under Photosensitivity).
- Because your skin will be sensitive to light for 48 hours following administration of Gleolan, it’s important to minimize your exposure to light sources. While you’re in the hospital, your treatment team will manage this. Once discharged, you should remain indoors and in low lighting until the 48-hour period is up.
- Follow any directions from your treatment team about preparing for and recovering from surgery.