Brain Tumor

Every year, an estimated 700,000 people nationwide live with a brain tumor, and more than 79,000 were newly diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2018 alone, according to the American Cancer Society. Whether brain tumors are cancerous or not, they can have permanent, life-altering implications affecting physical, cognitive, and psychological functions.

Our spine and brain tumor treatment center has a complete, multidisciplinary team of board-certified neurologists, neurosurgeons, and neuro-oncologists, whose extensive clinical experience treating a wide range of brain and spinal tumors ensures optimal results for every patient. Some patients may also require medical intervention from a radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, or endocrinologist. We utilize state-of-the-art diagnostic tools and treatment methods to give you the best possible treatment outcome.

Some of the brain and spinal tumors we treat include:

  • Acoustic Neuromas
  • Anaplastic Astrocytomas
  • Astrocytomas
  • Carcinomatous Meningitis
  • Cavernous Angiomas
  • Chordomas
  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Dermoids
  • Ependymomas and Subependymomas
  • Epidermoids
  • Gangliogliomas
  • Glioblastomas Multiforme (GBM)
  • Gliomas
  • Hemangioblastomas
  • Leptomeningeal Metastases
  • Lymphomas
  • Meningiomas
  • Medulloblastomas
  • Metastatic Brain Tumors
  • Neuroblastomas
  • Oligodendrogliomas
  • Optic Nerve Gliomas
  • Pineal Region Tumors
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Sarcomas
  • Skull Base Tumors
  • Skull Tumors
  • Spinal Cord Tumors
  • Tumors of Neurofibromatosis
  • Ventricular Tumors

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What Are Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors?

The brain and spine (also called the central nervous system) form the epicenter of all the body’s functions. The central nervous system relays information to the rest of the body to perform all voluntary and involuntary processes in the human body. The brain helps us process sensory information, form memories, have feelings, communicate, and it controls the body’s involuntary functions, such as digestion, the sleep/wake cycle, release of hormones, heart rate, and much more. Specifically, the brain stem controls breathing, the cerebellum controls moving the body’s muscles, and the cerebrum controls sight, memory, emotions, personality, and thinking. The location of the brain or spinal tumor may impact one or multiple brain functions.

Brain and spinal cord cells involve abnormal masses of cells that grow out of control. Brain tumors are either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous), but either is dangerous and requires prompt treatment. Benign tumors, although they are not cancerous, are far from harmless. Even though a benign tumor anywhere else in the body may not be cause for great concern, benign brain tumors grow in size over time and begin to increase pressure in the skull and slowly destroy healthy brain tissue. In some cases, benign brain tumors cause permanent disability, even death. Benign brain tumors are categorized as grade 1 and grade 2.

Malignant tumors, which are cancerous, are very dangerous because they grow quickly and spread into other brain tissue. Malignant brain tumors are categorized as grade 3 and grade 4, with grade 4 being the most serious.

Both benign and malignant brain tumors require prompt treatment once diagnosed.

Types of Brain Tumors

There are many types of brain tumors, and each patient’s case is unique, depending on the size and location of their tumor. Brain tumors are also categorized as either primary or secondary, depending on the origin of the tumor. Tumors that originate in the brain itself are called “primary,” while tumors that started in another area of the body such as the lung or breast and then spread to the brain are “secondary,” or metastatic brain tumors. Secondary tumors are more common than primary brain tumors, and they are always malignant (cancerous) and usually fatal; however, the outlook for a malignant brain tumor depends on the location in the brain, the size of the tumor, and the grade.

There are at least 130 different types of brain tumors, many of which have multiple subtypes. The most common brain tumors in adults include:

  • Meningeal tumors, also called meningiomas: This is the most common type of brain tumor, accounting for more than one-third of all brain tumors. These benign brain tumors form in the meninges of the brain, which is the thin layer of tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas grow in size over time (grade I) and can usually be completely removed through craniotomy surgery. Usually this type of tumor does not come back after being removed. Rarely, meningeal tumors cannot be completely removed by surgery (grades II and III), making their prognosis much worse than grade I meningiomas. Meningeal tumors are twice as common in women, and the risk of developing these tumors increases with age.
  • Gliomas: These fast-growing primary brain and spinal tumors have many subtypes, including glioblastomas, ependymomas, and oligodendrogliomas. Gliomas account for 74.6% of malignant brain tumors, and about 30% of all brain tumors are gliomas, per the American Cancer Society. These brain tumors can be life-threatening, depending on their location and tumor size.
  • Metastatic brain tumors: These brain tumors are “secondary” because they originated in another part of the body and spread to the brain. They are malignant, or cancerous tumors. Cancer that spreads to the brain still has the same name as the original cancer. For example, if a brain tumor originated in the breast, it is called metastatic breast cancer, because the cells in the brain resemble abnormal breast cells instead of abnormal brain tumors. Metastatic brain tumors are classified as stage IV cancer.

How Are Brain and Spinal Tumors Diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of a brain tumor, your physician will take a complete medical history and perform a physical exam. Brain tumors may be diagnosed after your doctor does a neurologic exam to check your vision, hearing, coordination, reflex, and level of alertness.

The use of diagnostic imaging tools such as computerized tomography (CT scans) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are extremely valuable in determining the size and location of a brain tumor. These imaging tools create images of the brain through computer technology. The type of tumor can be determined through surgical removal of the tumor and a biopsy. A biopsy is the process of examining tumor cells under a microscope, which can determine if the tumor is growing and confirm whether a tumor is benign or malignant.

A diagnosis of a spinal or brain tumor will determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Brain Tumor Symptoms

The symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on the size, location and type of tumor, but in general, they include:

  • Chronic headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Chronic nausea
  • Loss of strength, including weakness of limbs
  • Low energy
  • Balance problems
  • Loss of motor coordination, including trouble standing up or walking
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite
  • Seizures
  • Problems with vision, hearing, or speech
  • Mood swings or apathy
  • Behavioral or personality changes

Brain Tumor Treatments

Depending on their size, location and type, brain tumors may require medical or surgical interventions, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Treatments used for brain tumors also depend on the patient’s age and overall health.

Brain tumors may be treated by the following interventions, which vary depending on your overall health and the type and grade of your tumor. In general, a combination of brain tumor treatments may include:

  • Brain Surgery (Craniotomy): This type of surgery is the usual first course of treatment for any brain tumor, if it is operable. Before surgery begins, the patient is given general anesthesia and the scalp is shaved. The skull is opened through an incision in the scalp using a special medical saw to remove a piece of the skull bone to access the portion of the brain to be operated on. After the tumor is removed, the piece of bone that was taken out for surgery is put back into place, and the surgeon closes the incision in the scalp.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment involves the use of drugs to kill cancerous brain cells. These drugs travel through the bloodstream throughout the body. It is usually given intravenously, but it may also be administered orally. Chemotherapy may be indicated either during or after radiation treatments.
  • Radiation Therapy: The purpose of radiation is to kill brain tumor cells with high-energy X-rays, gamma rays or protons. People who are ineligible for surgical removal of their brain tumor are instead treated with radiation therapy.
  • Alternative Treatments: You may also use complementary treatments, such as a special diet, acupuncture or massage. These should be used alongside your regular medical treatment and may be useful in helping you feel better. It is important to note, however, that these are merely complementary treatments, and not proven to work. You should always inform your doctor(s) of any alternative treatments you want to try.

After you undergone any of these brain tumor treatments, you will likely need some form of rehabilitation as a component of the treatment process, depending on how the tumor has impacted your ability to perform everyday activities. Some of the treatments you may need include physical therapy, speech therapy, occupation therapy, and others.

Follow-up care is also very important. You’ll need to have regular checkups with your brain tumor treatment team. You’ll be checked for health problems that may arise, and your neurologist will check to see if your tumor has returned. Checkups include physical and neurologic exams, as well as imaging tests like a CT or MRI scan.

Contact Our Brain Tumor Treatment Center

Request an appointment online now or call 833-656-3876.