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Brain Tumors. What You Need to Know.
Medically reviewed by Dr. William Naso
Let’s start with 3 pieces of good news:
- Not all brain tumors are cancer.
- New radiation technology – Stereotactic Radiosurgery greatly improves the ability to target and treat brain tumors.
- There’s no need to leave the region to obtain treatment.
“The diagnosis of a brain tumor is obviously a life-altering experience, because the brain is who we are,” says Dr. William Naso of Florence Neurosurgery & Spine Center. “It’s the center of how we interact with people.”
“In some ways, the seriousness and symptoms of a brain tumor are like real estate: location, location, location,” says Dr. Naso. “If a tumor is behind your eye, it’ll affect vision. In the middle of your brain, your pituitary gland and hormones may be affected. On the left side of your brain, you may have trouble with speech.”
Other common symptoms include:
- Recurrent headaches in a person who has not had them before.
- Changes in personality and mood.
- Short-term memory loss.
- Poor coordination in the arms and legs.
Symptoms due to a brain tumor are likely to appear quickly with no previous evidence of the problems.
Brain tumors basically can be identified as:
- Primary, indicating that the tumor originated in the brain.
- Metastasis, meaning that the tumor in the brain spread from another tumor or cancer site elsewhere in the body.
- Benign, signifying that it is not cancerous and does not invade nearby tissue. Once removed, benign tumors usually do not grow back.
- Malignant, describing cancerous tumors thatgrow rapidly and invade nearby brain tissue.
CAUSES & TREATMENTS
Unlike lung cancer, with its direct link to smoking, brain cancer usually has no specific cause.
In children under the age of 20, brain tumors are the second leading cause of death behind leukemia (cancer of the blood). In men, ages 20-30, brain cancer is also the second leading cause of death. People over 55 are more likely to suffer a malignant primary brain tumor.
A diagnosis of a brain tumor is never good news. But there are now specialists and technology available that eliminate the need to leave the region for treatment.
Patients and their families can find help through the Brain Tumor Support Group at Florence Neurosurgery and Spine Center. For more information on the group, call Elle Anderlik at (843) 673-0122.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, Cancer Research (UK), National Brain Tumor Society, American Association of Neurological Surgeons