Brain tumors are abnormal overgrowths of cells in the brain. They can be either malignant, aggressively spreading to other areas of the brain and other parts of the body, or benign and non-aggressive, although they can still grow and cause symptoms. Tumors that originate in the brain are called primary brain tumors. The most common primary brain tumors are:
Sometimes tumors can originate in other areas of the body and spread to the brain. These are metastatic tumors. In the U.S., brain tumors are the second-leading cause of neurological-related death (after strokes), with more than 100,000 new cases of primary and metastatic brain tumors diagnosed each year.
The exact cause of brain tumors is unknown, but researchers believe:
May all play a factor in that may increase the risk of a brain tumor.
In their early stages, many brain tumors cause few or no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they can include:
Symptoms typically become noticeable when the tumor grows and presses against other areas of the brain or when inflammation occurs as a result of the tumor. Symptoms may develop gradually, or there may be a rapid onset of symptoms.
Brain tumors typically are diagnosed with a CT scan or an MRI of the brain. Dyes may be injected to highlight areas of the brain for better visualization. Blood tests may also be performed, especially when the cause of symptoms hasn’t been confirmed. Once the tumor is confirmed, a biopsy or small tissue sample may be removed from the tumor for further evaluation or the entire tumor may be removed for analysis when possible.
Treatment for brain tumors will depend on the size, location, and type of tumor, as well as other factors, and may involve surgery, radiation or radiosurgery, chemotherapy or a combination of these approaches. The team at Acadiana Neurosurgery are experts in providing the appropriate care for a patient’s particular brain tumor.
Click here to read several articles written by Dr. Appley and others about the pituitary gland and tumors in a 2003 IRSA BrainTalk newsletter.