Brain Cancer

Any cancer diagnosis can be life-changing, and a diagnosis of brain cancer can be especially unsettling. But you have the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute behind you.

Fighting your cancer with you.

Any cancer diagnosis can be life-changing, and a diagnosis of brain cancer can be especially unsettling.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer | Causes of Brain Tumors | Types of Brain Cancer | Brain Tumor Treatments

A brain tumor refers to an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. These tumors can arise from the brain tissue itself (primary tumors) or spread from other parts of the body (metastatic tumors), potentially leading to various neurological symptoms, and requiring specialized medical intervention for accurate diagnosis and treatment. With a commitment to specialized medical expertise, INTEGRIS Health provides comprehensive care, including accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans, to effectively address the unique needs of patients with brain tumors.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer

The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor depend on several things, but the tumor’s size and location are the biggest factors. Additionally, symptoms also depend on how fast the brain tumor is growing which is called the tumor grade.

General signs and symptoms of a brain tumor include the following:

  • Headache or pressure in the head that more people than not mention it’s worse in the morning compared to the rest of the daytime.
  • The headaches don’t cause sensitivity to light and sound
  • Fainting
  • Seizures, especially if there is no history of seizures
  • Nausea, dizziness, or vertigo
  • Weakness or loss of feeling and movement in arms, legs, or both
  • Eye problems, such as blurry vision or seeing double. Patients have also experienced losing sight on the sides of their vision.
  • Trouble with balance
  • Speech problems
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion in everyday activities
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble following simple commands
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Hearing problems
  • Feeling very hungry and weight gain

Brain tumors that aren’t cancerous are called benign tumors. These tumors tend to have slow developing symptoms that can take months or years before they’re no longer subtle.

Cancerous brain tumors tend to have more aggressive symptoms that continue to get worse quickly. These tumors are called brain cancers or malignant brain tumors. Their signs and symptoms typically get worse in a matter of days or weeks.

Causes of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors that begin in the brain are called primary brain tumors. Brain tumors occur when cells in or around the brain change their DNA. If the changed DNA tells the cells to grow after healthy cells would have naturally died off, this can create extra cells in the brain. These excess cells can go on to form a growth known as a brain tumor.

It’s unclear what causes the DNA to change that leads it to become a brain tumor. For many people, the cause remains unknown. On occasion, parents pass the DNA changes to their children which can increase the risk of brain tumors; however, hereditary brain tumors are rare. If you have a family history of brain tumors, you may consider consulting with your health provider.

Secondary brain tumors occur when cancer originates somewhere in the body and spreads to the brain. When cancer spreads, it’s known as metastatic cancer. The most common types of cancer to spread to the brain is the following:

It’s unclear why some cancers are more likely to spread to the brain and others don’t. Secondary brain tumors often happen to people who have a history of cancer. It’s rare that a brain tumor is the first sign of cancer that began somewhere else. Secondary brain tumors are much more common than primary brain tumors.

Types of Brain Cancer

There are several different types of brain tumors. The type of brain tumor is based on what kind of cells make up the tumor. Different tests and studies will determine what brain tumor you may be experiencing.

Types of brain tumors include the following:

  • Gliomas and related brain tumors: the most common of tumors, they appear as glial cells. The glial cells surround and support the nerve cells in the brain tissue. Types of gliomas also include astrocytoma, glioblastoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymoma. Although gliomas can be benign, most are malignant. Glioblastoma is the most common type of malignant brain tumor.
  • Choroid plexus tumors: these tumors start in cells that make the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Choroid plexus tumors are in the fluid-filled cavities in the brain, called ventricles. These tumors can be benign or malignant, choroid plexus carcinoma is the malignant form. These tumors are commonly found in children.
  • Embryonal tumors: embryonal tumors are a type of brain tumor that primarily affect children and young adults. These tumors develop from abnormal embryonic cells and can occur in various parts of the brain. They are often aggressive and require a multidisciplinary approach for treatment, including surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy, with the goal of removing the tumor and preventing its spread to optimize long-term outcomes.
  • Germ cell tumors: Germ cell tumors are a type of brain tumor that originates from the reproductive cells, usually found in the testicles or ovaries. However, in rare cases, these cells can develop abnormally in the brain. When located in the brain, they’re most likely located near the pineal or pituitary gland. Germ cell tumors are generally benign and more common in children.
  • Pineal tumors: pineal tumors start in or around the brain’s pineal gland which is in the center of the brain. This gland makes a familiar hormone that we call melatonin which helps with sleep. Pineal tumors can be either benign or malignant. Pineoblastoma is a malignant type of pineal tumor that’s most common in children.
  • Meningiomas: the most common of benign brain tumors, meningiomas are brain tumors that start in the membranes around the brain and spinal cord. Meningiomas are typically benign, however they can be malignant.
  • Nerve tumors: nerve tumors are growths that happen in or around the nerves. The most common type that happens in the head is acoustic neuroma, also known as schwannoma. The benign tumor is located on the main nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain.
  • Pituitary tumors: brain tumors can begin in or around the pituitary gland, located around near the base of the brain. Most tumors that appear in or around the pituitary gland are benign. Pituitary tumors happen in the pituitary gland itself, craniopharyngioma is a brain tumor that happens near the pituitary gland.

Brain Tumor Treatments

Treatment for brain tumors depends on several factors. Most commonly, your doctor will take into consideration whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Treatment options also depend on the size, type, grade and location of the brain tumor.

With a multidisciplinary team of specialized physicians, advanced diagnostic technologies, and a range of treatment options, INTEGRIS Health is driven to always deliver personalized care plans tailored to each individual.

Brain tumor treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, radiosurgery and chemotherapy.

  • Surgery: Surgical treatment involves craniotomies of various types depending on the location of the cancer. This includes minimally invasive choices like keyhole surgery and endoscopic approaches which are through a tube. New microscope technology at INTEGRIS also allows some brain tumors to become fluorescent under the microscope so that more complete resections can be performed in some cases. Care is taken to preserve hair and keep the incisions hidden whenever possible. Many patients can leave the hospital the day after surgery.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery and Radiotherapy: Some brain tumors are best treated by radiation oncology and neurosurgery physicians together. These physicians collaborate to create a computer-generated treatment program that provides non-invasive treatment with focused beam radiation to treat single and multiple brain lesions without an open surgical procedure.

The Multidisciplinary Neurological Cancer Clinic

Brain cancer treatment used to mean dozens of appointments at different facilities with multiple specialists. Today, the INTEGRIS Cancer Institute Multidisciplinary Neurological Cancer Clinic streamlines the process by gathering all the physicians and specialists in one room to decide the best course of treatment for each individual patient. That means the time you have to spend between diagnosis and treatment is dramatically reduced.

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