- Primary—A tumor that arises in the brain. It can be either malignant or benign. A small benign tumor in a bad location can cause significant problems.
- Secondary—A tumor that spreads to the brain from another cancerous site in the body. All secondary tumors are malignant and metastatic.
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- A condition that affects the immune system
- Family history of certain types of cancer
Headache—Most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. Headaches due to brain tumors may have the following features:
- Worsens over a period of weeks to months
- Worse in the morning or causes you to wake during the night
- Different than a normal headache
- Worsens with change of posture, straining, or coughing
- Nausea or vomiting, especially early morning vomiting
- Weakness in arms and/or legs
- Loss of sensation in arms and/or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Hearing loss or vision loss, including double vision
- Speech problems
- Memory problems
- Personality changes
- Steroids to decrease swelling and fluid buildup
- Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures
- Craniotomy—opening the skull to remove the tumor or as much of the tumor as possible
- Shunt—implanting a long thin tube in the brain to direct fluid build up to another part of the body
- External —Radiation is directed at the tumor from a source outside the body. If you have a metastatic brain tumor, you will receive whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT). If you have a primary brain tumor, you will receive more focused radiation therapy. WRBT may also be used in people who have cancer in other areas of the body. The treatment is used to prevent brain tumors.
- Internal—Radioactive materials are placed into the body near the cancer cells. This is used less often.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery—Higher doses of radiation can be delivered to the affected areas of the brain. Nearby normal tissue can be spared. Special equipment, including MRI and CT scans, help to focus the radiation. This is most often used in metastatic brain tumors or in benign brain tumors, such as meningiomas.
- Physical therapy to help with walking, balance, and building strength
- Occupational therapy to help with mastering life skills, such as dressing, eating, and using the toilet
- Speech therapy to help express thoughts and overcome swallowing difficulties
American Brain Tumor Association http://www.abta.org
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca
Cancer Care Ontario http://www.cancercare.on.ca
Astrocytoma and oligodendroglioma in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 9, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Brain cancer—for patients. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/brain. Accessed September 5, 2014.
Brain tumors. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Brain%20Tumors.aspx. Updated June 2012. Accessed September 5, 2014.
5/28/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Tremont-Lukats IW, Ratilal BO, Armstrong T, Gilbert MR. Antiepileptic drugs for preventing seizures in people with brain tumors. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008;(2):CD004424
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 09/2015 -
- Update Date: 09/05/2014 -