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Brain tumor

A brain tumor or intracranial neoplasm occurs when abnormal cells form within the brain.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures
  • Loss of balance or dizziness
  • Loss of hearing
  • Vision changes
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty thinking, speaking, or finding words
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Other nonspecific symptoms
  • Altered mental status — changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abnormalities in vision
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity

Risk Factors:

  • Age
  • Body
  • Genetic Inheritance
  • Chemical exposure
  • Exposure to radiation / previous radiotherapy treatment

Common Types:

  • Glioma
  • Meningioma
  • Lymphoma
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Germinomas
  • Teratomas
  • Medulloblastoma (common in children)


  • Physical exam, neurological exam and health history
  • Blood tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI brain scan
  • PET scan
  • SPECT scan
  • Surgical biopsy
  • Angiogram
  • Myelogram
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Neuroendoscopy


  • Grade I is a separate group of tumors called juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma (JPA). The term juvenile does not refer to the age of the patient, but the type of cell. This is a noncancerous, slow-growing tumor that can often be cured with surgery. It is different from low-grade astrocytoma or Grade II glioma, which are likely to come back after treatment.
  • A grade II tumor does not have dead cells in the tumor, called necrosis, but shows an abnormally large number of cells, called hypercellular.
  • A grade III tumor is hypercellular and has cells that are actively dividing, called mitosis. It is often called anaplastic astrocytoma.
  • A grade IV tumor is usually a glioblastoma, also called glioblastoma multiforme or GBM. Cells in the tumor are actively dividing, and it has blood vessel growth and areas of dead cells in addition to the factors common to grade II and III tumors.


In general, there is no known way to prevent brain cancers. However, early diagnosis and treatment of tumors that tend to metastasize to the brain may reduce the risk of metastatic brain tumors. 


When a brain tumor is diagnosed, a medical team will be formed to assess the treatment options presented by the leading surgeon to the patient and his/her family. Given the location of primary solid neoplasms of the brain in most cases a "do-nothing" option is usually not presented. Neurosurgeons take the time to observe the evolution of the neoplasm before proposing a management plan to the patient and his/her relatives. These various types of treatment are available depending on neoplasm type and location and may be combined to give the best chances of survival:

  • Surgery: complete or partial resection of the tumor with the objective of removing as many tumor cells as possible.
  • Radiotherapy: the most commonly used treatment for brain tumors; the tumor is irradiated with beta, x rays or gamma rays.
  • Chemotherapy: is a treatment option for cancer however it is seldom used to treat brain tumors as the blood and brain barrier prevents the drugs from reaching the cancerous cells

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