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Brain Tumors

What Are Brain Tumors?

Brain tumors are masses of cells that grow in abnormal, uncontrollable ways in or on your brain. While both benign or malignant brain tumors are critical conditions, cancerous brain tumors often spread to healthy parts of your brain. The multiplying cells of a brain tumor press against the healthy parts of your brain, interfering with normal functioning.

Since a brain tumor causes similar symptoms to other neurological conditions — such as a brain hemorrhage, epilepsy, an aneurysm or a stroke — seek an accurate diagnosis from a board-certified neurologist or neurosurgeon. Treating your brain tumors properly requires the work of a team of specialists at a top neurosurgery and spine center.

New Jersey’s top neurosurgeons at Premier Brain & Spine have the latest medical equipment and the most up-to-date surgical knowledge to treat brain tumors. With an on-site ambulatory surgery center, this spine and neuro center provides the best care for any neurological issues you’re experiencing, including brain tumors.

What Are the Symptoms of a Brain Tumor?

Different symptoms present themselves, depending on the type of your tumor, its growth rate and its location in your brain. The various symptoms of brain tumors include:

  • New headaches
  • More frequent headaches
  • Severe headaches
  • Unexplained nausea
  • Balance problems
  • Mental fog
  • A loss of cognitive abilities
  • Changes in your behavior or personality
  • The onset of seizures
  • Poor vision
  • Loss of sensation in one arm or leg
  • A speech impairment
  • Unexplained exhaustion

While you can’t expect to experience all of these symptoms, any of them are cause for concern. You may also be diagnosed with a brain tumor without showing any symptoms. Neurosurgeons often find brain tumors while testing for something else.

What Causes Brain Tumors?

The cause of tumors that originate in your brain, known as primary brain tumors, is often a random mutation of brain cells. Primary brain tumors can be benign or malignant. Cancerous cells that travel to the brain through your bloodstream cause metastatic or secondary brain tumors, which are always malignant.

Adults are more likely to develop secondary brain tumors than primary brain tumors. Medical scientists don’t understand why brain tumors develop, but factors that increase your risk include:

  • Exposure to radiation
  • Certain genetic conditions
  • Old age
  • Family history

How Are Brain Tumors Diagnosed?

Advanced imaging techniques allow your surgeon to see the location and characteristics of a brain tumor. Tests that your doctor uses to diagnose a brain tumor include:

  • CT/CAT scan
  • MRI
  • Magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • PET scan

After imaging tests, the doctor may still want a biopsy to determine what type of tumor you have. To collect a biopsy, your neurosurgeon uses a needle inserted into the tumor. A pathologist analyzes the sample and determine whether it’s benign or malignant.

How Are Brain Tumors Treated?

Treatment for brain tumors depends on the type of tumor, its location and its size. If a tumor is benign, your doctor may decide to monitor it with regular MRIs to see if any changes occur. For dangerous brain tumors, treatment involves one or more interventions, including:

    • Surgery. Doctors access your tumor with a craniotomy or a skull base surgery procedure. Brain mapping then allows your surgeon to precisely remove the tumor without damaging your brain.
    • Radiation therapy. High-energy x-rays directed at the tumor kill and shrink abnormal cells.
    • Chemotherapy. Chemicals, often delivered intravenously, kill fast-growing cancerous cells.
    • Radiosurgery. Multiple beams of radiation aimed from different locations meet at the tumor and deliver a high dose of radiation, killing it.
    • Targeted drug therapy. For this therapy to work, your doctors must first discover a weakness in the tumor. Then they can exploit it to kill the cancerous cells.

    Treating a brain tumor requires all the expertise and skill of a talented neurosurgeon. Find doctors you trust to guide you through the process. The team at the spine and neuro center at Premier Brain & Spine has an excellent track record. Schedule an appointment today.