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MICHIGAN NEUROSCIENCE
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Paul Croissant, MD
St. Joseph Mercy Oakland
Neurosurgeon
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THE FACTS ABOUT Brain Tumors

Background

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells that grow in or around the brain. These tumors are either malignant — made up of cancerous cells that may spread to other locations in the brain or spinal cord, or benign – made up of non-cancerous cells that do not spread to other locations.

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The symptoms of a brain tumor vary, depending on the tumor’s size, location, severity, and related swelling. The most common symptoms, however, are headaches, seizures, weakness in one part of the body, and changes in mental function. Tests used to confirm the presence of a brain tumor include a CT scan, MRI, EEG, and examination of tissue removed from the tumor during surgery.

“Brain tumors fall into two distinct categories – primary tumors and metastatic tumors,” says Paul Croissant, MD and SJMO Neurosurgeon. “Primary brain tumors, which can be benign or malignant, begin within the brain. Metastatic tumors, which are always malignant, are formed when cancer cells located in another part of the body break away and travel to the brain.”



Treatment of a brain tumor depends on the size and type of the tumor, its growth rate, and the general health of the patient. Treatment options typically include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy – or a combination of these.

“We are turning to a number of promising new therapies to target brain tumors, while protecting surrounding healthy tissue,” says Croissant. “Some of the emerging treatment modalities include: Brachytherapy, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), and Stereotactic Radiosurgery.”

Emerging Treatments Modalities:
Brachytherapy — or seed therapy – is a technique that uses radioactive seeds that are strategically implanted into the brain tumor. With this therapy, the dose of radiation is concentrated on the cancer cells and less damage is done to the healthy tissue surrounding the cancerous growth.

Intensity Modulated Radiation
Therapy (IMRT) – is an advanced mode of high precision radiotherapy that utilizes computer controlled x-rays to deliver precise radiation doses to the malignant tumor, while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy cells.

Stereotactic Radiosurgery
– is a highly precise form of radiation therapy that directs narrow beams of radiation to the tumor from different angles. Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used to help identify the tumor’s exact location while a computer assists the surgeon regulate the dose of radiation.

Other treatments may include steroid medications to reduce swelling and inflammation of brain tissue. If the tumor has produced a buildup of fluid in the brain, surgeons may surgically insert a shunt —a long thin tube placed in the brain and then threaded under the skin to another part of the body to remove excess fluid.

Surgery, also called surgical resection, to remove a part or the entire tumor is often recommended for primary brain tumors. Chemotherapy or anti-cancer medications may be recommended to slow or kill rapidly dividing cells.

CAUTIONS
It is important to contact your physician if you are experiencing persistent headaches or other symptoms associated with a brain tumor.

REFERRAL
Please contact the physician referral line at 800.372.6094 to find a SJMO neurologist near you.

 

THE MEDICAL REPORT LIBRARY:

MICHIGAN NEUROSCIENCE
 
 
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