Archive for the ‘Brain Tumors’ Category

Treatment For Brain Tumors

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Treatment can involve surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Brain tumors are best treated by a team involving a neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, oncologist, or neuro-oncologist, and other health care providers, such as neurologists and social workers.

Early treatment often improves the chance of a good outcome. Treatment, however, depends on the size and type of tumor and the general health of the patient. The goals of treatment may be to cure the tumor, relieve symptoms, and improve brain function or the person’s comfort.

Surgery is often necessary for most primary brain tumors. Some tumors may be completely removed. Those that are deep inside the brain or that enter brain tissue may be debulked instead of entirely removed. Debulking is a procedure to reduce the tumor’s size.

Tumors can be difficult to remove completely by surgery alone, because the tumor invades surrounding brain tissue much like roots from a plant spread through soil. When the tumor cannot be removed, surgery may still help reduce pressure and relieve symptoms.

How are brain tumors diagnosed?

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Brain tumors are diagnosed using sophisticated computer technology that images the brain in various ways. Computerized tomography (CT) uses a computer and X-rays to make a picture of the brain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or spectroscopy (MRS) create a brain image using magnetic fields and radiowaves. Other imaging techniques that may be used to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a tumor include digital subtraction angiography (DSA), magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), positron emission tomography (PET), and single photon electron computerized tomography (SPECT).

In addition to their usefulness at the time of initial diagnosis, these technologies may also allow early detection of a brain tumor recurrence, which facilitates earlier treatment.

Most patients with a brain tumor undergo a biopsy, the surgical removal of a tissue sample from the tumor, either alone or as part of the surgical removal of a tumor. A neuropathologist examines the sample under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis, classify the tumor more specifically by the type of cells it contains, determine how abnormal the tumor cells are (histologic grade) and determine how quickly it is growing. Subtle but critical differences in cells that the pathologist detects under the microscope are critical in making the correct diagnosis, which is used in determining further testing and appropriate treatment for each patient.

Brain Tumors

Wednesday, August 9th, 2006

Any mass or growth of abnormal cells occurring in the brain tissue, skull, supportive tissue around the brain, cranial nerves, or the pituitary or pineal gland can be a brain tumor. Primary tumors are those that develop in the brain; secondary brain tumors originate somewhere else in the body and spread to the brain.

Primary brain tumors

Primary tumors may be malignant or nonmalignant.

Malignant, or high-grade, tumors contain cancer cells. They grow rapidly and invade the healthy tissue around them. Eventually, a malignant tumor will crowd out or destroy the normal cells and interfere with their function. Malignant tumors are life-threatening.

Nonmalignant, or low-grade, tumors may also invade surrounding tissue, or coexist with normal cells. Despite this they can cause severe neurologic impairment, such as seizures, behavioral changes and memory loss, and can interfere with normal, vital brain functions. Some low-grade brain tumors are life-threatening.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has dozens of classifications for brain tumors, based on where in the brain they arise and their characteristic growth pattern. Each type of tumor has a recommended, accepted treatment regimen and a different prognosis.