A brain tumor involves the presence of a benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growth of 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 brain 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 examples of primary benign brain tumors include meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas (AKA acoustic neuromas) and neurofibromas. Examples of malignant primary brain tumors include glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), astrocytomas, gliomas, and oligodendrogliomas. When brain tumors spread from other parts of the body they are referred to as metastatic brain tumors or metastatic brain cancer. Common sites of origin for metastatic brain tumors include metastatic lung cancer, metastatic breast cancer, metastatic colon cancer, metastatic prostate cancer, metastatic melanoma and others.
Causes and Risk Factors for Brain Tumor
While the specific cause of brain tumors and why they develop in some people rather than others is not known, there are certain factors that can increase a patient’s risk of developing brain tumors. Some of these risk factors may include: family history of brain tumors, family history of cancer, smoking, exposure to radiation, HIV, working with certain chemicals.
Symptoms and Complications of Brain Tumors
Patients with brain tumors 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 a brain tumor. If left untreated, brain tumors can lead to life-threatening complications such as an obstructed flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a cerebral herniation, 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 Tumors
If your doctor suspects a brain tumor, 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.
Treatment for Brain Tumors
WARNING: If you or your healthcare provider suspects a brain tumor, urgent neurosurgical evaluation is recommended.
The most effective treatment for brain tumors 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 tumors 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 are techniques that use 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 tumors include immunotherapy and steroids. Your doctor will decide which treatment is best for you after a thorough evaluation of your condition.
Prevention for Brain Tumors
There is no real way to prevent brain tumors, 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 tumors 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 tumors. 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 tumors including primary brain tumors (i.e. astrocytomas, glioblastoma multiforme, low-grade gliomas, oligodendrogliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, acoustic neuromas, schwannomas and 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 tumor treatment, tailored to the needs of each patient. For the very best in brain tumor 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!