Brain Tumors

Brain Trauma Roanoke, VA

Tumors of the Brain

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal tissue growth in the brain or central spine that frequently interrupts proper brain function. There are many different types of brain tumors; however, the most common types of brain tumors are meningioma and glioma. The four main subtypes of brain tumors are:

  • Benign: The benign brain tumor originates from cells within the brain and is typically the least aggressive form of brain tumor. Benign tumors do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly and generally have clear borders that do not invade into other tissue.
  • Malignant: The malignant brain tumor contains cancerous cells that generally spread to surrounding brain tissue. These tumors grow rapidly and are considered life threatening.
  • Primary: A primary brain tumor indicates that the tumor originates in the brain. The tumor can spread to other areas within the brain or spinal cord; however, they rarely spread to other organs in the body.
  • Metastatic: A metastatic brain tumor originates in another part of the body and spreads to the brain. These tumors occur more frequently than primary brain tumors and are named by the location from which they originate.

Symptoms of a Brain Tumor

The symptoms of a brain tumor can vary widely, but occasionally cause no symptoms at all. If you have any of the following symptoms it is critical to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Early detection of a brain tumor does not mean it can be cured, however management of the tumor is more successful when it is less invasive. Some symptoms of a brain tumor include:

  • Recurrent headaches
  • Issues with vision
  • Seizures
  • Changes in personality
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Poor coordination
  • Difficulty speaking or comprehending

Diagnosing Brain Tumors

Diagnosing a brain tumor usually occurs after the onset of symptoms. Your doctor will perform a full physical exam and prescribe image testing to help make the diagnosis. The most effective tests that are performed to diagnose brain tumors are:

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • PET scan

A brain tumor will show up on these image tests and the doctor can determine the size and location of the tumor. The type of tumor will not be known unless a biopsy is performed or pathology is completed after surgery to remove the tumor.

Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are frequently managed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors who coordinate to combine and execute a variety of treatments. The team of doctors will work together to determine a treatment approach that will offer the patient the most successful outcome. Treatment options depend on several factors such as:

  • Size of tumor
  • Type of tumor
  • Grade of tumor
  • What parts of the brain the tumor is putting pressure on
  • Whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the brain or central nervous system (CNS)
  • Side effects of treatment
  • Patient’s overall health and preferences for treatment

Surgical Treatment Option

Expedited surgical removal of a brain tumor and some of the surrounding tissue is generally the preferred treatment of choice when a brain tumor has been diagnosed. Your neurosurgeon will perform a craniotomy (removal of part of the skull) to access the location of the tumor. The surgeon will remove as much if not all of the tumor and some of the surrounding tissue to assess invasiveness of the tumor. The brain tumor will be sent to pathology for grading and analysis. Advancements in treatment of brain tumors allows scientists to perform tests on the tumor to determine if it will respond to radiation treatment or chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy Treatment Option of Brain Tumors

Radiation therapy utilizes high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells. It is a very targeted therapy that will aid in stopping or slowing the growth of the tumor. Radiation therapy can be used in combination with chemotherapy or used before surgery to shrink a tumor. There are several types of radiation therapy available and your oncology team will choose the most effective treatment for your specific tumor type.  

Chemotherapy Treatment of Brain Tumors

Chemotherapy utilizes drugs to destroy cancer cells. The goal of chemotherapy treatment is to stop the cancer cell’s ability to grow and divide. The medication can be given orally, through an IV injection placed into a vein, or a port which is established to make injections easier. Chemotherapy is often given in accordance with a schedule that provides administration of the medication in a set period of time.

Advancements in chemotherapy allow neurosurgeons to place chemotherapy in the form of a wafer after surgery into the surgical site. The wafer gradually administers the medication directly to the area where the cancer cells were removed.

Follow up image testing will be performed on regular intervals to evaluate the growth or shrinkage of the tumor. Other treatment options will be investigated depending on the results of your image testing.

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