Brain cancer diagnosis is next in line when you observe the symptoms of brain cancer.
For the diagnosis of brain cancer, do the following:
Exams and Tests
A CT scan of the brain is run. This test is like an X-ray that shows detail three dimensions. From this, medical interview, and physical exam, your health care provider will be able to know if there is a problem with your brain or brain stem.
More often, the use of an MRI scan instead of a CT scan is applied in cases where your health provider suspects a brain tumor. The reason is that MRI scans have better sensitivity for detecting the presence of, or changes inside, a tumor. However, the use of CT scan as the first diagnostic test is still common in many institutions.
Also, people who suffer from brain cancer are liable to have other medical problems. This calls for routine lab tests like analysis of blood, electrolytes, and liver function tests.
If your scans show the presence of cancerous brain tumor, see a cancer specialist (oncologist). For better care, a specialist in brain tumors (neuro-oncologist), will be better.
The next step in diagnosis is to confirm that you have a cancer. This is done by taking and testing a sample of the tumor (biopsy):
- Surgeons use surgery to obtain a biopsy. Here, the skull is cut open, usually with the intent of removing the entire tumor, if possible. They take the biopsy from the tumor.
- In some cases, it is possible to collect a biopsy without cutting open the skull. The precise location of the tumor in the brain is known by using a CT or MRI scan. A small hole is made in the skull and the surgeon guides a needle through the hole to the tumor. The needle gets the biopsy and is withdrawn. This is known as stereotaxis or stereotactic biopsy.
- Under a microscope, the biopsy is examined by a pathologist.
Brain Cancer Treatment
Brain Cancer Treatment Overview
There is a level of complexity in the treatment of brain cancer. Several doctors are consulted prior to treatment.
- The team of doctors includes neurosurgeons, oncologists, radiation oncologists and, your primary health care provider. A dietitian, a physical therapist, a social worker, and, possibly, other specialists such as a neurologist can be included in your team.
- The treatment protocols vary a lot according to the location of the tumor, your age, its size and type, and any additional medical problems.
- Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are mostly used.
Brain Cancer Surgery
Mostly, a large number of people with a brain tumor undergo surgery.
- The aim of surgery is to confirm that the abnormality the surgeons see during testing is indeed a tumor and to remove the tumor. Should it be that there’s no way to take the tumor out, the surgeon will take a sample of the tumor to know its type.
- In some cases, especially in benign tumors, symptoms can be entirely cured by surgical removal of the tumor. The neurosurgeon will try to remove all the tumor when possible.
You may undergo several treatments and procedures prior to surgery. For example:
- A steroid drug such as dexamethasone (Decadron), you will have to take, to relieve swelling.
- To relieve or prevent seizures, you may be treated with an anticonvulsant drug.
- If you have too much cerebrospinal fluid collecting around the brain, the use of a shunt lets the fluid out.
Radiation Therapy for Brain Cancer
Also known as radiotherapy, it is the use of high-energy rays to destroy tumor cells, thereby deterring them from growing and multiplying.
- Radiation therapy is best for people who cannot undergo surgical processes. In other cases, its use includes destroying any tumor cells that may remain after surgery.
- Radiation therapy affects only cells in its path. It typically does not harm any other cell elsewhere in the body or even elsewhere in the brain.
The Uses Of Radiation include:
- External radiation uses a high-energy beam of radiation aimed at the tumor. The beam goes through the skin, the skull, healthy brain tissue, and other tissues to get to the tumor. often, these treatments last five days a week for a certain amount of time. Each treatment takes only a couple of minutes.
- Internal radiation uses a small radioactive capsule that is placed inside the tumor itself. The radiation emitted from the capsule kills the tumor. The radioactivity of the capsule reduces a little bit each day. It runs out when it gets to the optimal dose. You should stay in the hospital for several days while receiving this treatment.
- The “knifeless” surgical method is another name for Stereotactic radiosurgery. It terminates a brain tumor without opening the skull. To get the exact location of the tumor in the brain, CT or MRI scans come in quite handy. A single large dose of high-energy radiation beams are to target the tumor from different angles. The radiation terminates the tumor. Stereotactic radiosurgery has fewer complications than open surgery and a shorter time for recovery.
Chemotherapy for Brain Cancer
Chemotherapy is the use of powerful drugs to destroy tumor cells.
- The use of a combination of drugs or a single drug.
- The use of IV line or mouth to give drugs. Also, through the shunt, you can get some medications.
- Chemotherapy is usually in cycles. A cycle consists of a short period of intensive treatment followed by a period of recovery and rest. Each cycle lasts just weeks.
- Most regimens consist of two to four complete cycles. There is then a break in the treatment to see how your tumor responds to the therapy so far.
- The side effects of chemotherapy are well obvious. They may be very hard to tolerate for some people. They may include vomiting and nausea, loss of appetite, mouth sores, loss of hair, among others. Some of these side effects get relief by medication.
After a brain cancer diagnosis, and diagnosis shows there’s a tumor, you need to be very observant to keep all appointments with consultants and primary health care provider. People with brain cancer often are at increased risk for more medical problems and, potentially, recurrence of cancer.
Brain Cancer Survival Rate
After the diagnosis of brain cancer, treatment, and follow-up, let’s look at the survival rate. The rate of survival in brain cancer differ. The main factors that influence survival are the type of cancer, its location, whether it can be surgically reduced in size or removed, age, and other medical problems.
- In general, younger patients have a better chance of survival and recovery
- Brain cancer that has spread from somewhere else in the body is the most common type. Survival rates depend on the origin of the cancer and other factors.
Treatment for many types of brain cancer is available. It will often give you better hope of surviving. Discuss treatment options available and best-estimated prognosis with your cancer team.
Support Groups and Counseling
Living with cancer presents many new challenges, both for your family and friends and you.
- You will probably have to think a lot about how cancer will affect you and your ability to “live a normal life;” that is, to care for your family, to hold your job, and to continuing the relationships and activities you delight in.
- Many people feel depressed and anxious. Some people feel resentful and angry; others feel defeated and helpless.
For a large percentage of people with cancer, talking about their concerns and feelings help.
- Your family members and friends can be very supportive. They may be slow to offer support until they see how you are faring. Don’t look forward to them to bring it up. If you desire to talk about concerns, notify them.
- Some others don’t want to “burden” their loved ones, or prefer to talk about their concerns with a more neutral professional. A social worker, member of the clergy or counselor may be helpful if you want to discuss feelings and concerns about having cancer. A recommendation should be able to come from your oncologist.
- Many people with cancer receive help pretty well by talking to other people with cancer. Sharing concerns with others who have been through the same experience can be really reassuring. Find a support group of people with cancer where you are receiving treatment. You can get information on support groups from The American Cancer Society as they know about support groups all over the U.S.
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