What To Know About Benign Tumors
The most common types of benign brain tumors are:
- Meningiomas: Meningiomas are common and originate in the central nervous system, which contains the brain and spinal cord. Though benign, they create serious symptoms, including headaches, speech problems and seizures, and they can even become fatal if untreated.
- Acoustic neuromas: Acoustic neuromas develop on the nerves that lead from the ear to the brain and can interfere with balance and normal facial muscle movement.
- Pituitary: Pituitary tumors form on the vital pituitary gland and disrupt the hormones responsible for essential bodily functions.
Meningioma Treatment: Surgery Or Not
Sometimes, believe it or not, your doctor may recommend observation for meningioma, especially if its small and not causing problems. Youll have regular MRIs to check on it.
Otherwise, the main treatment for meningiomas is surgery to remove it, through a craniotomy or other procedure. Your doctor will go over what the operation will involve, the approach to access the tumor and what you can expect afterward.
How does a neurosurgeon operate on a meningioma? Its all about location. Depending on where the tumor is, each approach will be different. Tumors close to the surface are typically easier to access than those located along the skull base.
Skull base tumors are those located deep in the skull, behind the nose or eyes. These can be challenging, and call for surgeons with skill and expertise in this kind of surgery.
There are a number of new techniques in brain tumor surgery, even for tumors located deep in the skull, and some of these are less invasive.
One system involves a camera-assisted tube that gently moves brain tissue aside so surgeons can reach the tumor with less cutting, so patients can recover faster,
After your treatment you will have regular MRIs to ensure the tumor isnt returning.
In many cases, it wont. After 10 years, about 90 percent of patients who have had a meningioma have not seen a recurrence if the tumor is removed completely, including the part of the brain lining from which it grew.
The Johns Hopkins Proton Therapy Center
Brain Tumor Causes And Risk Factors
Doctors donât know why some cells begin to form into tumor cells. It may have something to do with a personâs genes or his or her environment, or both. Some potential brain tumor causes and risk factors may include:
- Cancers that spread from other parts of the body
- Certain genetic conditions that predispose a person to overproduction of certain cells
- Exposure to some forms of radiation
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Other Types Of Brain Tumors
- Hemangioblastomas are slow-growing tumors, commonly located in the cerebellum. They originate from blood vessels, can be large in size and often are accompanied by a cyst. These tumors are most common in people ages 40 to 60 and are more prevalent in men than women.
- Rhabdoid tumors are rare, highly aggressive tumors that tend to spread throughout the central nervous system. They often appear in multiple sites in the body, especially in the kidneys. They are more prevalent in young children, but also can occur in adults.
Withdrawing From The World
For most people, withdrawal from the world is gradual.
Your loved one may experience extreme tiredness and spend more and more time in bed and/or asleep. They may also be drowsy and less engaged or interested in what is going on around them, when theyre awake. This is normal. You may need to draw on non-verbal cues to understand how they are feeling.
Some people become calm and tranquil. Others can become confused and agitated.
Eventually they may drift into unconsciousness. This may last for a few minutes, hours or even days.
What can I do to help?
While theyre still mobile, if they become confused or agitated, try to make their environment as safe as possible. Try not to antagonise them – if theyre refusing to do something you want them to do, ask yourself if its really necessary. If behavioural strategies dont work, speak to your healthcare team, as they can give medications to help calm your loved one.
As they become confined to bed and more withdrawn, they may still be aware of your presence, so continue to talk to them. Share fond memories, and explain any care that is being given to them. You could play their favourite or soothing music, or read their favourite book to them.
Dont be afraid to touch them. Holding their hand or stroking their head can be reassuring and calming for them.
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What Are The Options For Stopping Treatment
Some patients prefer to stop treatment and let the disease take its course. This should be respected but is not irreversible if the patient changes their mind. Equally doctors can override the order if the resuscitation is needed for an unrelated cause, or if they think it is within the patients best interest. The same with a Living Will, which specifies what kinds of states a person doesnt want to live with. You can change your mind about treatments or refusal of treatment. In Living With A Brain Tumour, Peter Black says:
There is no way to predict with certainty how a persons disease will progress or how he or she will feel about further treatment at any given point. Sometimes a patient who has lived with a tumour that has been considered inoperable may begin to have more and more problems because of it. At that point, its not too late to consider surgery as an option in order to stabilize the person enough so that he or she can have a better quality of life.
He goes on to explore options in supportive care:
What do I want to do?
This is the most important question. Of course we are frightened of dying. Or are we? Isnt it more how we might die that frightens us the most? By looking the tiger in the eye we can have more control over how we die. There was a time when it was left to the medical practitioners not any more.
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Minimally Invasive Surgical Options Available At Ucla
Endoscopic removal of meningiomas through the nose
- olfactory groove meningiomas
Keyhole microsurgical removal using eyebrow incision
- olfactory groove meningiomas
- Tumor embolization prior to surgery
- In some cases, your surgeon may choose to reduce the blood supply to the tumor by ordering an embolization procedure.
- Embolization involves threading a thin tube up the leg veins or arteries directly into the blood vessels that feed the tumor. Then a glue-like clotting substance is injected to choke off and shrink the tumor.
- For those ineligible for surgery or with incomplete surgical removal, either conventional radiation or fractionated stereotactic radiosurgery can slow or stop the growth of meningiomas.
- Radiation treatment is often considered for deep, surgically inaccessible tumors, or tumors in elderly patients.
- Younger patients need to be counselled about the risk of developing radiation-induced cancer 10 or more years after radiation treatment. Fortunately, the chances of this happenning appear to be very small.
- For tumors in favorable locations, up to 85% of meningiomas are curable with surgery.
- Location, the amount of the tumor left after surgery, and the skill of the neurosurgeon are the important elements in predicting a successful result.
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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:
Ask The Expert: Brain Tumors
Doctors now have more options than ever for treating brain tumors such as gliomas. The techniques and technology used yesterday might no longer be the best choice of care today. As both a researcher and neurosurgeon, Toral Patel, M.D., is uniquely experienced to offer state-of-the-art care for patients with both malignant and benign brain tumors.
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Causes Of Benign Tumors
The exact cause of a benign tumor is often unknown. It develops when cells in the body divide and grow at an excessive rate. Typically, the body is able to balance cell growth and division. When old or damaged cells die, they are automatically replaced with new, healthy cells. In the case of tumors, dead cells remain and form a growth known as a tumor.
Cancer cells grow in the same manner. However, unlike the cells in benign tumors, cancerous cells can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.
While its unclear why benign tumors develop, potential causes have been identified. These include:
- environmental factors, such as toxins, radiation, or chemicals
- inflammation or infection
Anyone can develop a benign tumor, including children, though adults are more likely to develop them with increasing age.
How They’re Treated
Small tumors may not need treatment. Your doctor will check you regularly with CT or MRI scans to see if the tumor grows.
Bigger tumors are removed with surgery. Your surgeon will try to take out as much of the tumor as possible.
Radiation is another treatment. It uses high-energy X-rays to shrink tumors. Doctors use radiation on tumors when they:
- Can’t be fully removed with surgery
- Come back after surgery
A type of radiation treatment called stereotactic radiosurgery is an option for some brain tumors. It aims high doses of radiation directly at your tumor to avoid harming nearby tissues.
Your doctor will discuss all of your treatment options with you and help you decide on a plan thatâs best for you.
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When To See Your Gp
See your GP if you have symptoms of a brain tumour. While it’s unlikely to be a tumour, these symptoms need to be assessed by a doctor.
Your GP will examine you and ask about your symptoms. They may also test your nervous system.
If your GP thinks you may have a brain tumour or they’re not sure what’s causing your symptoms, they’ll refer you to a brain and nerve specialist called a neurologist.
What Are The Complications Associated With A Brain Tumor
Some people with a brain tumor â whether it is benign or malignant â experience complications as the tumor grows and presses on surrounding tissue. These complications include:
- Faster or slower breathing and pulse rates.
- Numbness that interferes with feeling pressure, heat or cold on the body.
- Weakness or inability to move a leg or arm on one side of the body.
- Vision, hearing and smelling problems.
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What You Need To Know About Benign Brain Tumors
- A benign brain tumor is a mass of noncancerous cells that grows inside the brain. By contrast, a malignant brain tumor consists of cancerous cells.
- Benign brain tumors tend to grow slowly and are unlikely to spread outside the brain.
- A benign brain tumor may cause minor to severe symptoms, depending on its size and location. A tumor that presses against vital tissues or nerves may impair your ability to speak, see or remember things.
- Doctors often recommend removing benign brain tumors to protect your long-term health. In some cases, you may not need immediate treatment.
- People with benign brain tumors usually need lifelong monitoring. We personalize a follow-up plan to your needs. Regular testing helps us track changes in your health so we can act promptly should a concern arise.
How To Talk To Your Doctor About Benign Brain Tumors
You may be surprised to learn that you have a benign brain tumor. We help you understand your diagnosis and take the time to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
You might want to ask your doctor about:
- Additional testing, if any, you may need to guide diagnosis or treatment
- Tumor type, including how a benign brain tumor could affect your health now or in the future
- Treatment options, including whether you need treatment now and what to expect if your doctor recommends surgery
- Support services, including resources that can help you manage any physical or emotional challenges during treatment
- Lifelong care, including how and how often your doctor recommends monitoring you in the months and years ahead
We consider whats important to you when developing your treatment recommendations. We encourage you to bring family or loved ones with you to appointments to support you in making important treatment decisions.
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Recovering From Treatment For A Non
After treatment, you may have persistent problems, such as seizures and difficulties with speech and walking. You may need supportive treatment to help you recover from, or adapt to, these problems.
Many people are eventually able to resume their normal activities, including work and sport, but it can take time.
You may find it useful to speak to a counsellor if you want to talk about the emotional aspects of your diagnosis and treatment.
What Are Treatment Of Benign Brain Tumors
Treatment of benign brain tumors is similar to other brain tumor treatments except that chemotherapy is seldom done. Treatment protocols are based on the patient’s age, the location and size of the tumor, and the patient’s overall condition. Brain surgery with surgical removal of tumor and/or radiation therapy are the main treatments. Often other drugs such as corticosteroids that reduce edema and help the brain heal are part of the treatment plan. Rarely are benign tumors untreatable.
Survival in children for all brain tumors is about 70% long-term side effects are common. For adults, five-year survival is related to age group, with younger ages surviving at about a 50% rate. Survival rate continues to decrease with age so that older patients have a much lower survival rate of about 5%. Survival for patients with benign tumors is usually much better for all age groups, but reliable data is sparse.
The best source of information about your benign tumor is your treatment team of doctors which is usually composed of a primary-care doctor, neurosurgeon, neurologist, radiologist and infrequently, an oncologist .
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Looking For Other Treatments
You might find information about a treatment that you think is new, or could be offered to you. You should take that information to your specialist. You can talk it through with them and find out if it is relevant for your situation.
Some people might consider going abroad for treatment. It is important to discuss this with your doctor. It might be that a particular treatment is not suitable for you, or it might be available in the UK.
Treatment overseas can be a big commitment. It can be expensive and involve time away from home and family and friends.
You can also consider joining a clinical trial. Go to Cancer Research UKs clinical trials database if you are looking for a trial for brain and spinal cord tumours in the UK. You need to talk to your specialist if there are any trials that you think you might be able to take part in.
What Causes A Brain Tumor
Doctors are not sure what causes most brain tumors. Mutations or defects in genes may cause cells in the brain to grow uncontrollably, causing a tumor.
The only known environmental cause of brain tumors is having exposure to large amounts of radiation from X-rays or previous cancer treatment. Some brain tumors occur when hereditary conditions are passed down among family members.
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How Is A Brain Tumor Diagnosed
Doctors use several tests to confirm the presence of a brain tumor. These tests include:
- Physical exam and medical history: Your doctor will perform a general health exam, looking for signs of diseases or illnesses. Your doctor will also ask questions about past and current health conditions, surgeries and medical treatments and family history of disease.
- Blood test: To check for tumor markers that are linked to certain types of tumors.
- Biopsy: Through a small hole in the skull, a doctor uses a needle to take a sample of tissue from the tumor. A laboratory studies the sample to identify details from the tumor, including how fast it is growing and whether it is spreading.
- Imaging tests:CTs, MRIs, SPECTs and PET scans help doctors locate the tumor and determine if it is cancerous or benign. Your doctor may also look at other parts of the body, such as the lungs, colon or breasts, to identify where the tumor started.
- Neurological exam: During a neurological exam, your doctor will look for changes in your balance, coordination, mental status, hearing, vision and reflexes. These changes can point to the part of your brain that may be affected by a tumor.
- Spinal tap: A doctor uses a small needle to remove fluid from around the spine. A laboratory examines this fluid to look for cancer cells, which can indicate a malignant tumor somewhere in the central nervous system.
What Tests Do Doctors Use To Diagnose Brain Cancer
The initial test is an interview that includes a medical history and physical examination of the person by a health care provider. The results of this interaction will determine if other specific tests need to be done.
The most frequently used test to detect brain cancer is a CT scan . This test resembles a series of X-rays and is not painful, although sometimes a dye needs to be injected into a vein for better images of some internal brain structures. Another test that is gaining popularity because of its high sensitivity for detecting anatomic changes in the brain is MRI . This test also shows the brain structures in detail better than CT. If the tests show evidence of brain cancer, then other doctors such as neurosurgeons and neurologists that specialize in treating brain ailments will be consulted to help determine what should be done to treat the patient. Occasionally, a tissue sample may be obtained by surgery or insertion of a needle to help determine the diagnosis. Other tests may be ordered by the health care practitioner to help determine the patients state of health or to detect other health problems. These tests help differentiate between cancerous and non-cancerous conditions in the brain that may produce similar symptoms .
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