Brain cancer involves the presence of cancerous (malignant) cells within the brain tissue, which can originate in the brain (primary brain tumors) or spread from other areas of the body (secondary or metastatic tumors). Primary brain tumors develop from many different types of brain tissue, and are often named after the cell type from which they developed. Some of the most common types of primary brain tumors include glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), astrocytomas, gliomas, and oligodendrogliomas. There are many types of benign (non-cancerous) tumors that originate within the brain as well. Some common benign brain tumors include meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas (AKA acoustic neuromas) and neurofibromas.
Causes and Risk Factors of Brain Cancer
While the specific cause of brain cancer and why it develops in some people rather than others is not known, there are certain factors that can increase a patient’s risk of developing brain cancer. Some of these risk factors may include:
- Family history of brain cancer
- Exposure to radiation
- Working with certain chemicals
Symptoms and Complications of Brain Cancer
Patients with brain cancer often experience weakness, difficulty walking, seizures and headaches. These symptoms can vary from patient to patient and may also include nausea, blurry vision, memory changes or personality changes. While these symptoms can be characteristic of many different medical conditions, it is important for patients to seek medical attention, especially if they are at a higher risk of developing brain cancer.
If left untreated, brain cancer can lead to life-threatening complications such as an obstructed flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a cerebral hernia or a stroke. These complications can cause permanent brain damage or even death. It is important for patients with brain cancer to seek prompt and thorough medical attention to prevent these complications from occurring.
Diagnosing Brain Cancer
If your doctor suspects brain cancer, he or she may perform a series of tests to confirm a diagnosis. After evaluating your medical history and performing a physical examination, a CT scan or MRI may be performed to produce internal images of the brain. A biopsy may also be performed to remove a small tissue sample for microscopic evaluation.
Brain Cancer Treatment
The most effective treatment can vary depending on the individual patient, their overall health and the type, location and severity of the tumor. Some of the most common treatments for brain cancer include surgery, radiation therapy, radiosurgery and chemotherapy. These treatments may be performed alone or in conjunction with each other. Most individual treatment plans require surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging the nearby health tissue. Because of the sensitive location of brain tumors, surgery may be difficult to perform for this condition and additional treatments may be needed. Surgery is also considered an invasive procedure and may not be suitable for all patients. Radiation therapy and radiosurgery uses radiation to destroy tumor cells, while chemotherapy uses drugs that are administered intravenously or at times intrathecally (injected directly into the brain). Other treatments used for brain caner include immunotherapy and steroids. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
Prevention for Brain Cancer
There is no real way to prevent brain cancer, but patients can increase the likelihood of successful treatment through early diagnosis and treating tumors before they spread. Patients with a higher risk of developing brain cancer should be regularly screened for the disease. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy life can help patients enjoy a long and happy life.
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, Dr. Lipani is a board certified fellowship trained neurosurgeon in New Jersey and specialist in the treatment for brain cancer. Dr. Lipani treats patients from around the world as well as locally from Princeton, New Brunswick, Hopewell, Pennington and communities throughout Somerset, Middlesex, Ocean, Burlington, Monmouth and Mercer Counties for all types of brain cancer including primary brain tumors (i.e. astrocytomas, glioblastoma multiforme, low-grade gliomas, oligodendrogliomas, others) and metastatic brain tumors such as metastatic lung cancer to the brain, metastatic breast cancer to the brain, metastatic colon cancer to the brain, metastatic prostate cancer to the brain, metastatic melanoma to the brain and others. Dr. Lipani offers image guided brain surgery approaches and the latest in noninvasive radiosurgery procedures for brain cancer treatment, tailored to the needs of each patient. If you want the very best in brain cancer treatment, or to learn about CyberKnife radiosurgery for noninvasive brain surgery, call or email us to schedule a consultation at our offices in Hamilton, New Jersey or Bridgewater, New Jersey!