A Meningioma Diagnosis May Occur When The Doctor Is Looking For Something Else
Brain tumor diagnosis is often incidental that is, the doctor discovers a tumor on a CT or MRI while examining the individual for another reason such as a head injury or another neurologic problem.
When a doctor diagnoses a meningioma, you will get further tests to find out how the tumor is likely to behave. Based on these data, a neurosurgeon will recommend removing the tumor or just watching it to see if it grows.
What Causes Brain And Spinal Cord Tumors In Adults
Many different types of tumors can start in the brain or spinal cord. These different tumors are unlikely to all have the same causes, but they might share some things in common.
The cause of most brain and spinal cord tumors is not fully understood, and there are very few well-established risk factors. But researchers have found some of the changes that occur in normal brain cells that may lead them to form brain tumors.
Normal human cells grow and function based mainly on the information in each cells DNA. Brain and spinal cord tumors, like other tumors, are caused by changes in the DNA inside cells. DNA is the chemical that makes up our genes, which control how our cells function. We usually look like our parents because they are the source of our DNA. But DNA affects more than how we look.
Some genes control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die:
- Certain genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes.
- Genes that help keep cell division under control, repair mistakes in DNA, or make cells die at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.
Cancers can be caused by DNAchanges that turn on oncogenes or turn off tumor suppressor genes. These gene changes can be inherited from a parent, but more often they happen during a persons lifetime.
The Most Common Brain Tumor: 5 Things You Should Know
A brain tumor diagnosis can sound like a life-threatening situation. But although the symptoms of most brain tumors are the same, not all tumors are malignant.
In fact, meningioma is the most common brain tumor, accounting for about 30 percent of them. Meningioma tumors are often benign: You may not even need surgery.
Here are five key meningioma facts you need to know:
Also Check: Diet To Shrink Meningioma
What Treatments Are Available
Treatment options vary depending on the type, grade, size and location of the tumor whether it has spread and your age and general health. The goal of treatment may be curative or focus on relieving symptoms . Treatments are often used in combination with one another. The goal is to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible through surgery to minimize the chance of recurrence. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are used to treat tumors that cannot be removed by surgery alone. For example, surgery may remove the bulk of the tumor and a small amount of residual tumor near a critical structure can later be treated with radiation.
Sometimes the best treatment is observation. For example, benign, slow growing tumors that are small and have few symptoms may be observed with routine MRI scans every year until their growth or symptoms necessitate surgery. Observation may be the best option for people who are older or with other health conditions.
Medications are used to control some of the common side effects of brain tumors.
Image-guided surgery technologies, tumor fluorescence, intraoperative MRI/CT, and functional brain mapping have improved the surgeonâs ability to precisely locate the tumor, define the tumorâs borders, avoid injury to vital brain areas, and confirm the amount of tumor removal while in the operating room.
Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy
What Are My Treatment Options
Doctors use a variety of therapies to treat brain tumors. Treatment depends on tumor size, type, growth rate, brain location, and your general health. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted biological agents, or a combination thereof. Surgery is generally the first treatment recommendation. This will rapidly reduce pressure in the brain. This website focuses on radiation therapy for brain tumors.
Over the last few decades, researchers have developed new techniques to deliver radiation that targets the brain tumor while protecting nearby healthy tissues. These treatments include brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy and radiosurgery.
If your tumor is radiosensitive, your doctor may prescribe radiation therapy. Conventional radiation therapy aims external beams of x-rays, gammarays or protons at the tumor to kill cancer cells and shrink brain tumors. Patients usually treatment over a period of several weeks. Your doctor may use whole brain radiation therapy if you have multiple tumors or tumors that cannot be easily targeted.
Types of radiation therapy include:
Doctors often prescribe surgery for primary brain tumors. A surgeon removes all or part of the tumor without causing severe damage to surrounding tissues. Surgery may also reduce pressure within the skull and ease symptoms when the tumor cannot be removed.
Also Check: Basal Ganglia And Limbic System
Symptoms Of Brain Tumors
Symptoms occur whether a brain tumor is noncancerous or cancerous. Noncancerous tumors grow slowly and may become quite large before causing symptoms. Cancerous tumors usually grow rapidly.
A brain tumor can cause many different symptoms, and symptoms may occur suddenly or develop gradually. Which symptoms develop first and how they develop depend on the tumors size, growth rate, and location. In some parts of the brain, even a small tumor can have devastating effects. In other parts of the brain, tumors can grow relatively large before any symptoms appear. As the tumor grows, it pushes and stretches but usually does not destroy nerve tissue, which can compensate for these changes very well. Thus, symptoms may not develop at first.
Many symptoms result from increased pressure within the skull:
Deterioration in mental function
Problems due to pressure on specific structures in or near the brain, such as the nerve to the eye
Later, as the pressure within the skull increases, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, increased drowsiness, intermittent fever, and even coma may occur. Vision may blur suddenly when people change positions.
Other common symptoms of a brain tumor include vertigo, loss of balance, and incoordination. Some brain tumors, usually primary tumors, cause seizures.
How Are Benign Brain Tumors Treated
Most benign brain tumors are treatable. Treatment options are similar to other brain tumor treatments, and are based on the patient’s age and overall health, and the location and size of the tumor. Typically, chemotherapy is not recommended in cases of benign brain tumors.
Primary treatments for benign brain tumors include:
Read Also: Are Brain Hemorrhages Hereditary
Types Of Benign Brain Tumors
Types of Malignant Brain Tumors
Gliomas are the most prevalent type of adult brain tumor, accounting for 78 percent of malignant brain tumors. They arise from the supporting cells of the brain, called the glia. These cells are subdivided into astrocytes, ependymal cells and oligodendroglial cells . Glial tumors include the following:
What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Cancer
When a tumour grows it can cause damage to the brain by pressing on the surrounding cells, affecting how they function. A tumour can also block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain, leading to increased pressure within the brain, which can also cause damage.
Symptoms, therefore, will depend on where the tumour is in the brain and which functions that area of the brain controls.
Brain cancer symptoms can include:
Don’t Miss: Brain Test How Many Eggs Are There
Primary Vs Metastatic Brain Tumors
Primary brain tumors are tumors that start in the brain. Examples of tumors that most often originate in the brain include meningioma and glioma. Very rarely, these tumors can break away and spread to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. More commonly, tumors spread to the brain from other parts of the body.
Metastatic brain tumors, also called secondary brain tumors, are malignant tumors that originate as cancer elsewhere in the body and then metastasize to the brain. Metastatic brain tumors are about four times more common than primary brain tumors. They can grow rapidly, crowding or invading nearby brain tissue.
Common cancers that can spread to the brain are:
Are There Any New Developments In Treating My Disease
Over the past decade, improvements in fractionated and stereotactic radiotherapy have improved survival rates and quality of life for brain tumor patients. A few experimental drugs and therapies also show promise in clinical trials, including:
- Angiogenesis inhibitors are drugs that interfere with the growth of blood vessels in the tumor. By reducing its blood supply, they starve the tumor of the nutrients and oxygen it needs to grow. This is also called anti-angiogenetic therapy.
- Immunotherapy promotes the immune response against tumor antigens . There are many different types of immunotherapy approved for use, Many others are still undergoing clinical trial.
- New classes of biological agents targeted against various aspects of tumor cell signaling or metabolism.
- Enhanced drug delivery methods are undergoing clinical trials.
- Emerging re-irradiation treatment protocols for recurrent brain tumors are now available .
Radiofrequency tumor treating fields are now available to treat glioblastoma. This treatment sends mild electrical fields into the tumor and disrupts the cancer cells ability to grow and divide. Electrodes placed on the scalp deliver the electrical fields to the tumor. A radiofrequency generator with a battery backpack power the fields. This treatment does not use radiation. While it may be of value, it does require significant commitment to wear a treatment apparatus throughout the day and at night. This may be a significant lifestyle modification.
Don’t Miss: How To Shrink A Tumor Naturally
Recovering After A Benign Brain Tumor
Benign brain tumors and their treatments can affect your daily life. You can have trouble with vision, speech, walking, etc., depending on where your tumor is or was. These problems may not go away after treatment. Many people can get back to normal activities over time. You may need to work with physical, occupational, or speech therapy to regain function. You may also need to see specialists that help with other needs such as hearing and vision.
What Are The Types Of Benign Brain Tumors
There are many types of benign brain tumors. You will have imaging tests and likely a biopsy to find out what kind of tumor you have. Some types of benign brain tumors are:
- Meningioma: These tumors are in the meninges, which is the protective cover around your brain and spinal cord. These are the most common type of brain tumors.
- Schwannoma: These tumors start in Schwann cells which surround nerve cells outside of the brain and spinal cord. Vestibular schwannoma is the most common type and involves the vestibular nerve .
- Pituitary adenoma: Pituitary adenomas are benign tumors of the pituitary gland which is found at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland makes hormones and affects other hormone-producing glands.
- Hemangioblastoma: These tumors occur in the blood vessels supplying the central nervous system including the brain, spine, and sometimes can affect the retina . These tumors happen more often in those with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.
- Craniopharyngioma: These tumors make up 10-15% of benign brain tumors. They grow near the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. They happen more often in children and teens but can happen in adults.
- Glioma: These tumors start in the glial cells in the brain. A glioma can be malignant or benign. Gliomas are graded from 1 to 4 with 4 being the most aggressive. Grades 1 and 2 are usually benign gliomas.
Recommended Reading: Why Does Brain Freeze Happen
Brain Tumors In Children
Brain tumors are the most common solid tumor in children and adolescents, affecting about 5,000 children in the U.S. each year. Several different types of brain tumors can occur in children, including astrocytomas , gliomas, ependymomas and medulloblastomas.
Primary Brain Cancer Is Rare
A primary malignant brain tumor is a rare type of cancer accounting for only about 1.4% of all new cancer cases in the U.S. The most common brain tumors are known as secondary tumors, meaning they have metastasized, or spread, to the brain from other parts of the body such as the lungs, breasts, colon or prostate.
Recommended Reading: High Amplitude Slow Waves Eeg
What Happens During Radiation Therapy
For conventional radiation therapy, you will consult with a radiation oncologist a doctor who specializes in radiation therapy. During the first visit, the oncologist will review the history of your illness and perform a physical exam. You may consult with other members of your treatment team at this time, too.
After you and your doctor decide on a course of treatment, you will begin treatment planning. During this first treatment planning phase, a radiation oncologist will simulate your radiation therapy treatment using either conventional x-rays or a CT scan. Most cases will require an MRI scan. Doctors use these exams to plan the type and direction of radiation beams they will use to treat the cancer.
You will need to lie still on the treatment table during simulation, although no radiation therapy will be given at that point. The treatment team will usually create an immobilization mask at this time to prevent head movement. Typically, treatment begins one to two weeks after your treatment planning session. Planning and verifying your treatment plan will require significant medical physics before you begin treatment.
For more information about specific radiation therapy procedures and equipment, visit the following pages:
What Causes Brain Tumors And Am I At Risk
According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 79,000 new cases of primary brain tumors diagnosed each year with about one-third of those being cancerous. The average age of diagnosis is 59 years old but they most commonly occur in children and older adults. Brain tumors occur more frequently in men than in women.
Exposure to ionizing radiation, both therapeutic and from atomic bomb exposure, has been linked to the development of certain types of primary brain tumors, including meningiomas, gliomas, and sarcomas, particularly if the exposure took place in childhood. Higher radiation doses are generally felt to increase the risk of eventually developing a brain tumor. Radiation-induced brain tumors can take anywhere from 10-30 years to form.
With the recent popularity of cellular phones, many people have worried that their use may be a risk factor for developing brain tumors. However, there has been no conclusive evidence that cell phones increase the risk of brain tumors. There has also been concern regarding exposure to powerful magnetic fields and some sugar substitutes . Again, there has not been any conclusive evidence linking these factors to increased risk of brain cancer.
You May Like: Why Do Brain Freezes Hurt So Much
Are Brain Tumors Cancerous
Many brain tumors are cancerous. For example, more than half of all gliomas diagnosed in adults are glioblastomas, a very aggressive form of brain cancer. Ependymomas and oligodendrogliomas also are types of brain tumors that may be malignant. But not all brain tumors are cancerous. Many meningiomas, craniopharyngiomas and pituitary tumors are benign. Thats why its important to get a thorough and accurate diagnosis of a brain tumor. Its also important to understand that even benign tumors can damage brain tissue and cause side effects, such as headaches, fatigue and double or blurred vision. So even if a brain tumor is not cancerous, receiving timely and appropriate treatment may be critical to your overall health.
Benign Vs Malignant Brain Tumors
Benign brain tumors arenât aggressive and normally donât spread to surrounding tissues, although they can be serious and even life-threatening. Benign brain tumors usually have clearly defined borders and usually arenât deeply rooted in brain tissue. This makes them easier to surgically remove if theyâre in an area of the brain where itâs safe to operate. But they can come back. Benign tumors are less likely to come back than cancerous ones.
Even a benign brain tumor can be a serious health problem. Brain tumors can damage the cells around them by causing inflammation and putting increased pressure on nearby tissue, as well as inside your skull.
Malignant primary brain tumors are cancers that start in your brain, typically grow faster than benign tumors, and quickly invade surrounding tissue. Although brain cancer rarely spreads to other organs, it can spread to other parts of your brain and central nervous system.
Secondary brain tumors are cancer. They come from cancer that started somewhere else in your body and spread, or metastasized, to your brain. About 1 in 4 people with cancer develop a secondary brain tumor.
Why Choose Us For Benign Brain Tumor Care
Benign tumors require specialized expertise to protect your long-term health. At Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center, you are in expert hands.
Here, doctors with different specialties collaborate to deliver a precise diagnosis and personalized treatment. This team approach is uncommon in San Antonio and South Texas.
Our fellowship-trained neurosurgeons are skilled in techniques that enable us to remove brain tumors precisely. For example, we offer stereotactic radiosurgery. This advanced type of radiation therapy can treat some brain tumors without a single incision.
Find out more about our neuro-oncology program.