Have you or a loved one been recently diagnosed with a brain tumor? Here at St. Mary’s Medical Center, we not only look to treat you and your condition, we want to help ensure that you are properly informed and have a complete understanding of what a brain tumor truly entails.
Brain tumors are abnormal growths of tissue that occur in the brain. The tumors can begin to form in the brain or come from other parts of the body through metastasis. Not all brain tumors are cancerous (malignant), some can be considered non-cancerous (benign).
Metastatic brain tumors begin growing in another part of the body, then spread to through the bloodstream to the brain. Once another form of cancer has spread to the brain it is considered to be malignant.
A tumor that is benign does not have cancer cells and does not usually return once it has been removed. These tumors can create symptoms similar to cancerous tumors depending on size and location in the brain. Malignant tumors contain cancer cells are usually fast growing and invade surrounding tissue. These tumors may recur after treatment. There are times where benign tumors are called malignant depending where they are located in the brain and their potential to cause damage.
How do Brain Tumors Form?
Brain tumors occur from gene abnormality. When a person’s genes, specifically those linking to cell growth, are abnormal, this can cause cell growth beyond what the body should be growing. While most tumors form this way, there have also been reports of people who develop brain tumors in the same family that do not have any genetic abnormalities.
Research is always being conducted to help understand and determine direct causes of tumors. It has been shown that certain chemicals, foods, and even things we interact with on a daily basis may attribute to changes in the structure of a gene that is intended to protect the body from diseases and cancerous tumors. While this may be true, continuous cancer research is being done to help further understand the relationship with brain tumors and the many things that people interact with on a daily basis.
Brain Tumor Symptoms
Brain tumor symptoms are relations to the size, location, and pressure on the brain resulting from the tumor. Those individuals who have a brain tumor will experience symptoms differently. The following are the most common symptoms of a brain tumor.
- Decreased cardiac and respiratory function and, eventually, coma if not treated
- Personality changes
- Vomiting (usually in the morning)
The symptoms associated with having a brain tumor may appear to be another medical problems or issue. If you are feeling ill or experiencing that appears to be out of the ordinary, please consult your medical provider.
Diagnosing a Brain Tumor
Similar to getting diagnosed with other illnesses, a complete physical examination and review of medical history will occur. In addition, some of the following procedures occur in order to completely understand if there is a brain tumor or the state of the brain tumor.
- Arteriogram (Also called an angiogram)
- Bone scan
- Computed tomography scan (Also called a CT or CAT scan.) (LINK TO CT SCAN)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (LINK TO MRI)
- Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS)
- Neurological examination
- Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Spinal tap (Also called a lumbar puncture.)
The type of procedure for identifying and diagnosing a brain tumor depends on an individual’s symptoms, tumor location, and other factors as determined by a physician to utilize the most appropriate diagnosing method.
Types of Brain Tumors
Numerous types of brain tumors exist and they are usually identified by where the tumor originates and the types of cells that form the tumor. Some of the more common tumors are as follows:
- Brain Stem Gliomas
- Metastatic tumors
- Pineal region tumors
- Pituitary tumors
- Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET)