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How To Diagnose Brain Tumor

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Surgical Or Open Biopsy

How a Neuro-ophthalmologist Diagnosed a Brain Tumor

If imaging tests show the tumor can likely be treated with surgery, the neurosurgeon may not do a needle biopsy. Instead, he or she may do an operation called a craniotomy to remove all or most of the tumor.

For a preliminary diagnosis, small samples of the tumor are looked at right away by the pathologist while the patient is still in the operating room. This can help guide treatment, including whether further surgery should be done at that time. A final diagnosis is made within a few days in most cases.

You can read more about the kinds of tests done on biopsy or tissue samples in Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer.

What Are Brain Tumors

A tumor in the brain isnt like tumors in other parts of your body. It has limited room for growth because of the skull. This means that a growing tumor can squeeze vital parts of the brain and lead to serious health problems. Learning about the possible symptoms of brain tumors can help you know when to tell a doctor about them.

Types Of Brain Tumors

Primary brain tumors come from cells that make up the brain and central nervous system. Theyâre named for the kind of cell in which they first form. There are more than 100 kinds of brain tumors. The most common types in adults are:

  • Gliomas. These tumors start in the glial cells, which are cells that help keep nerves healthy. Theyâre most often cancer. There are several categories of gliomas, based on which specific cells they target. Astrocytomas are most common in adults. A glioblastoma is the most aggressive type of glial tumor.
  • Meningiomas. These form in the meninges, the thin layer of tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord. They arenât cancer, but they can cause problems by pressing on your brain.
  • Schwannomas. These damage the protective coating of nerve cells. They arenât cancer, but they often cause hearing loss or problems with balance.
  • Pituitary adenomas. These form on the pituitary gland, which sits at the base of your brain. It makes important hormones. These tumors usually arenât cancer and are slow growing.

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Early Warning Signs And Symptoms Of A Brain Lesion

Symptoms of a brain lesion depend upon what part of the brain is affected. Large parts of the brain can be involved in some diseases and there may be relatively few symptoms. Alternatively, very tiny lesions may be catastrophic if they occur in a critical part of the brain.

Initial signs and symptoms of a brain lesion are often non-specific and may include:

  • Worst headache of your life
  • Nausea
  • Brain Or Spinal Cord Tumor Biopsy

    Brain tumor

    Imaging tests such as MRI and CT scans may show an abnormal area that is likely to be a brain or spinal cord tumor. But these scans cant always tell exactly what type of tumor it is. Often this can only be done by removing some of the tumor tissue in a procedure called a biopsy. A biopsy may be done as a procedure on its own, or it may be part of surgery to remove the tumor.

    Sometimes, a tumor may look so characteristically obvious on an MRI scan that a biopsy is not needed, especially if the tumor is in a part of the brain that would make it hard to biopsy . In rare cases a PET scan or MR spectroscopy may give enough information so that a biopsy is not needed.

    The 2 main types of biopsies for brain tumors are:

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    After A Diagnosis Of Brain Cancer

    After finding out you have brain cancer, you may feel shocked, upset, anxious or confused. These are normal responses. A diagnosis of brain cancer affects each person differently. For most it will be a difficult time, however some people manage to continue with their normal daily activities.

    Your specialist will arrange for a range of health professionals to plan your treatment. This will be based on several factors including the type, size, location and genetic make-up of the cancer as well as, your age and general health, the types of symptoms you have and your needs and preferences.

    Find out more about the best cancer care for brain cancer:

    What Causes Brain Tumors

    Medical science neither knows what causes brain tumors nor how to prevent primary tumors that start in the brain. People most at risk for brain tumors include those who have:

    • cancer elsewhere in the body
    • prolonged exposure to pesticides, industrial solvents, and other chemicals
    • inherited diseases, such as neurofibromatosis

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    Copyright 2020 American Brain Tumor Association

    Mindee PluguesABTA, Member

    Mindee Plugues serves as Chair of the Development Committee of the ABTA Board of Directors. Since joining the ABTA board in 2017, she previously served as Chair of the Mission Committee.

    Mindee is an experienced executive and senior leader in brand and business management, integrated marketing, and people development. She has a proven track record of driving topline, margin, and share growth on multi-million/billion-dollar businesses. Over the course of her 15-year brand management career, she has led transformative marketing and breakthrough innovation on some of the most universally recognized brands such as Kraft Foods, Oscar Mayer, Lunchables, Halls, Trident, and Applebees.

    A seasoned brand strategist, Mindee is passionate about mining consumer, customer, and category insights to build businesses, brands, and teams globally and domestically. In her spare time, she continues to consult with start-ups and non-profits on building strong brand foundations and developing effective go-to-marketing strategies. Prior to brand management, she spent a decade in software development and product management leading process improvement and digital innovation in business systems and electronic banking.

    A Michigan native, Mindee holds an MBA from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and a B.A. in psychology from Michigan State University. She currently resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband Matthew and their young daughter.

    What Is A Brain Tumor

    Diagnosing Brain Tumors — Todd Vitaz, MD

    A brain tumor is a cluster of abnormal cells that grows out of control in your brain. Some brain tumors are benign, which means the cells arenât cancer. Others are malignant, meaning theyâre cancer.

    Brain tumors are called primary tumors if they started in your brain. Theyâre considered secondary if they started somewhere else in your body and spread to your brain.

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    Everything Else You Need To Know

    What causes a tumor? Schwartz says some genetic disorders can lead to brain tumors. “But the majority of tumors arise in people with no known risk factors or predisposing factors,” he explains. Children and adults over 60 are more likely to develop tumors, but “everyone is at risk at any age,” he adds.

    Despite what you may have heard, cell phones are not a known risk factor. “That’s a common misconception, but there’s no compelling evidence that pushes us to consider a link between cell phones and tumors,” he says.

    For large or malignant brain tumors, treatments could involve surgery, medications, radiation, or chemotherapy. The good news: Not all brain tumors are serious. “Many tumors are small and benign, and require no treatment,” Schwartz explains. “If we find one, we’ll just monitor it for growth or changes.”

    Should You Ask For A Second Opinion Before You Start Treatment For A Brain Tumor

    Before starting treatment, you might want a second opinion about your diagnosis and treatment plan. Some people worry that the doctor will be offended if they ask for a second opinion. Usually the opposite is true. Most doctors welcome a second opinion. And many health insurance companies will pay for a second opinion if you or your doctor requests it. Some companies require a second opinion.

    If you get a second opinion, the doctor may agree with your first doctor’s diagnosis and treatment plan. Or the second doctor may suggest another approach. Either way, you’ll have more information and perhaps a greater sense of control. You can feel more confident about the decisions you make, knowing that you’ve looked at your options.

    It may take some time and effort to gather your medical records and see another doctor. In many cases, it’s not a problem to take several weeks to get a second opinion. The delay in starting treatment usually won’t make treatment less effective. To make sure, you should discuss this delay with your doctor. Some people with a brain tumor need treatment right away.

    There are many ways to find a doctor for a second opinion. You can ask your doctor, a local or state medical society, a nearby hospital, or a medical school for names of specialists.

    Also, you can request a consultation with specialists at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

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    Types Of Brain Tumour

    There are many different types of brain tumour. They are often named after the cell they develop from or the part of the brain they start in. More than half of primary brain tumours are gliomas.

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    A brain tumours can be:

    • low-grade not cancer, sometimes called a benign tumour
    • high-grade cancer, also called a malignant tumour.

    A low-grade brain tumour usually grows slowly and may not cause symptoms for a long time. A high-grade brain tumour grows faster than a low-grade tumour.

    What Are The Treatments For Benign And Cancerous Brain Tumors

    Signs and Symptoms of a Brain Tumor

    People with brain tumors have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people get a combination of treatments.

    The choice of treatment depends mainly are:

    • The type and grade of brain tumor
    • Its location in the brain
    • Its size
    • Your age and general health

    For some types of brain cancer, the doctor also needs to know whether cancer cells were found in the cerebrospinal fluid.

    Your doctor can describe your treatment choices, the expected results, and the possible side effects. Because cancer therapy often damages healthy cells and tissues, side effects are common. Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. You and your health care team can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical and personal needs.

    You may want to talk with your doctor about taking part in a clinical trial, a research study of new treatment methods. See the Taking Part in Cancer Research section.

    Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, or you may ask for a referral. Specialists who treat brain tumors include neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and neuroradiologists.

    Questions to ask your doctor before having brain tumor treatment

    Can you recommend other doctors who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options? How often should I have checkups?

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    Memory Loss And Confusion

    Memory problems can be due to a tumor in the frontal or temporal lobe. A tumor in the frontal or parietal lobe can also affect reasoning and decision-making. For example, you may find that:

    • Its hard to concentrate, and youre easily distracted.
    • Youre often confused about simple matters.
    • You cant multitask and have trouble planning anything.
    • You have short-term memory issues.

    This can happen with a brain tumor at any stage. It can also be a side effect of chemotherapy, radiation, or other cancer treatments. These problems can be exacerbated by fatigue.

    Mild cognitive problems can happen for a variety of reasons other than a brain tumor. They can be the result of vitamin deficiencies, medications, or emotional disorders, among other things.

    A Exposure To Ionizing Radiation

    Individuals exposed to high radiation therapy from a large machine pointing at the head or receiving X-rays from other sources are more likely to develop brain tumors than other people.

    This type of radiation damage the brain cell, and this leads to the formation of a tumor. Also, ionizing radian may cause a brain tumor known as meningioma.

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    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:

    Signs And Symptoms Of Brain Tumor In Women And Men

    How to Manage Common Brain Tumor Symptoms

    Do i have a brain tumor? You may not have a brain tumour, but certain types of symptoms should be investigated. Youd have some unpleasant early signs of brain tumor.

    A brain tumor can start in the brain or spread from elsewhere from the body to the brain. Signs and symptoms of brain tumor in women and men may vary in each case. The factors on which symptoms depends are

    • Size of the tumor.
    • Type of the tumor.
    • Location of the tumor.

    Moreover, it is worth mentioning that the signs and symptoms of a brain tumors can be general or specific. The general symptoms are created by pressure on the brain caused by a tumor.

    The specific cause comes out when a particular part of the brain is affected, and the tumor cause that specific part not to function well.

    What are the symptoms of brain cancer? Let us discuss the symptoms category wise-

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    What Is Chemotherapy Treatment For Brain Tumors

    Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, is sometimes used to treat brain tumors. Drugs may be given in the following ways:

    • : Chemotherapy may be given during and after radiation therapy. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. They may be given in an outpatient part of the hospital, at the doctor’s office, or at home. Rarely, you may need to stay in the hospital. The side effects of chemotherapy depend mainly on which drugs are given and how much. Common side effects include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, fever and chills, and weakness. If the drugs lower the levels of healthy blood cells, you’re more likely to get infections, bruise or bleed easily, and feel very weak and tired. Your health care team will check for low levels of blood cells. Some side effects may be relieved with medicine.
    • In wafers that are put into the brain: For some adults with high-grade glioma, the surgeon implants several wafers into the brain. Each wafer is about the size of a dime. Over several weeks, the wafers dissolve, releasing the drug into the brain. The drug kills cancer cells. It may help prevent the tumor from returning in the brain after surgery to remove the tumor. People who receive an implant that contains a drug are monitored by the health care team for signs of infection after surgery. An infection can be treated with an antibiotic.

    Questions to ask your doctor before starting chemotherapy treatment for a brain tumor

    Positron Emission Tomography Scan

    For a PET scan, you are injected with a slightly radioactive substance which collects mainly in tumor cells. A special camera is then used to create a picture of areas of radioactivity in the body. The picture is not as detailed as a CT or MRI scan, but it can provide helpful information about whether abnormal areas seen on other tests are likely to be tumors or not. This test is more likely to be helpful for fast-growing than for slower-growing tumors.

    This test is also useful after treatment to help determine if an area that still looks abnormal on an MRI scan is remaining tumor or if it is more likely to be scar tissue. Remaining tumor might show up on the PET scan, while scar tissue will not.

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    Causes And Risks Of Brain Tumor

    The exact cause of brain tumors is unknown. But the moment any person comes to know that he/she has a brain tumor, its natural to be worried about what may have cashed the tumor.

    Doctors also have no specific answers about why one person has developed such a tumor, but another doesnt.

    It is assumed that certain risk factors enhance the chances of brain tumor growth. Those risk factors include:

    Medical History And Physical Exam

    Image result for General Signs of a Brain Tumor

    If signs or symptoms suggest you might have a brain or spinal cord tumor, your doctor will ask about your medical history, focusing on your symptoms and when they began. The doctor will also check your brain and spinal cord function by testing things like your reflexes, muscle strength, vision, eye and mouth movement, coordination, balance, and alertness.

    If the results of the exam are abnormal, you may be referred to a neurologist or a neurosurgeon, who will do a more detailed neurologic exam and may order other tests.

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    Signs Of Brain Metastases

    Heres surprising fact: The most common brain tumors dontactually start in the brain. Brain metastases, or metastatic braintumors, spread to the brain from otherparts of the body most often from the lungs, breasts, skin, kidneysor colon.

    A person with a known history of these cancers who developsany of these neurological symptoms should be evaluated, Dr. Ahluwalia says.

    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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