Few headaches are symptoms of brain cancer, but when they are, it’s reassuring to know you’re under the care of an exceptional neurosurgical team. If you’re a patient at Neurosurgical Specialists of West County in St. Louis, you have that reassurance, and you can feel confident that the team members work with other specialists who are also the best in their field to achieve a positive outcome for you. If you’re concerned about any neurological symptoms, call the office today to schedule a consultation.
Brain cancer is a condition where a malignant tumor grows in or on the brain.
Many types of tumors can affect the brain. Some of these tumors are benign, which means they’re noncancerous and could have been growing slowly for several years. Others are malignant, which means they’re cancerous.
Primary tumors originate in the brain or other tissues in your skull, whereas metastatic tumors spread from parts of the body where cancer is already developing, traveling via the bloodstream into the brain.
Brain cancer generally develops as a result of mutations in the DNA inside the body’s cells. The mutation enables cells to multiply without restraint, causing the growth of tumors. Cancer can develop without a specific cause beyond this genetic cell mutation, but some cancers develop more readily in people who smoke tobacco or suffer exposure to radiation.
Typical symptoms of brain cancer include:
While many patients who have brain cancer do experience symptoms, some people don’t have any idea they have a tumor until it’s picked up by accident when they undergo a diagnostic procedure for an unrelated reason.
Treatment for brain cancer depends on the type of tumor, where it is, and how large it is, as well as the individual patient’s needs and wishes. It is common for patients to require a combination of therapies. Potential treatments for brain cancer include:
During surgery, your surgeon aims to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as safely possible. When the tumor is near or in eloquent areas it may be necessary to awaken the patient during surgery to test those areas while removing tumor in order to avoid a deficit. In some cases it is not possible to safely remove the tumor, and a sample or biopsy can be taken for analysis which will then guide subsequent treatment.
Chemotherapy involves taking medication which kills cancer cells. As with any medication side effects are possible.
Radiation therapy, or radiotherapy, involves using high-energy rays to kill brain cancer cells. This is typically delivered in small doses over many weeks and focused on the problem area. However, it is occasionally necessary to deliver radiation to the entire brain to help prevent recurrence.
One specific type of radiation is stereotactic radiosurgery, where your neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist work together to deliver higher doses of focused radiation into the tumor from multiple directions in order to destroy the cancer cells. This is often performed in 1-5 treatments.
Please see our page on Radiosurgery for more details.
If you have any unexplained neurological symptoms or are diagnosed with a brain tumor, make a call to Neurosurgical Specialists of West County today.