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All about brain tumor primary brain tumors secondary brain tumors types of brain tumors causes of brain tumor risk factors for brain tumors complications of brain tumor symptoms of brain tumors diagnosing brain tumor brain tumor treatment

How is brain tumor diagnosed?

Brain tumor is diagnosed through a combination of symptoms and evaluation of neurological functions. Doctors consider the possibility of a brain tumor in people who have had a seizure for the first time or who have the characteristic symptoms. Although doctors can often detect brain dysfunction by performing a physical examination, other procedures are needed to

diagnose a brain tumor. A neurological exam is usually the first test given when a patient complains of symptoms that suggest a brain tumor. The exam includes checking eye movements, hearing, sensation, muscle movement, sense of smell, and balance and coordination. The physician will also test mental state and memory.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the gold standard for diagnosing a brain tumor. It does not use radiation and provides pictures from various angles that can enable doctors to construct a three-dimensional image of the tumor. It gives a clear picture of tumors near bones, smaller tumors, brainstem tumors, and low-grade tumors. MRI is also useful during surgery to show tumor bulk, for accurately mapping the brain and for detecting response to therapy.

A variant called magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is capable of providing information on the activity of the brain using magnetic resonance imaging. MRS is proving to be accurate for distinguishing dead (necrotic) tissue caused by previous radiation treatments from recurring tumor cells in the brain, a difficult diagnostic issue.

Computed Tomography. Computed tomography (CT) uses a sophisticated x-ray machine and a computer to create a detailed picture of the body's tissues and structures. It is not as accurate as an MRI and does not detect about half of low-grade gliomas. It is useful in certain situations, however. Often, doctors will inject the patient with an iodine dye, called contrast material, to make it easier to see abnormal tissues. A CT scan helps locate the tumor and can sometimes help determine its type. It can also help detect swelling, bleeding, and associated conditions. In addition, computed tomography is used to check the effectiveness of treatments and watch for tumor recurrence.

Positron Emission Tomography. Positron emission tomography (PET) provides a picture of the brain's activity rather than its structure by tracking substances that have been labeled with a radioactive tracer. PET is not routinely used for diagnosis, but it may supplement MRIs to help determine tumor grade after a diagnosis. As with magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), it is also able to distinguish between recurrent tumor cells from dead cells or scar tissue, although MRS is more widely available.

Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap). A lumbar puncture is used to obtain a sample of spinal fluid, which is examined for the presence of tumor cells. A CT scan or MRI should generally be performed before a lumbar procedure to be sure that the procedure will be safe.

Biopsy. A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the suspected tumor and examined under a microscope for malignancy. The results of the biopsy also provide information on the cancer cell type.

More information on brain tumor

What is brain tumor? - Brain tumors are abnormal growths made up of cells whose growth and division are no longer under the control of the body.
What are primary brain tumors? - A primary malignant brain tumor is one that originates in the brain itself. Primary brain tumors are named due to the cell types.
What are secondary brain tumors? - A secondary (metastatic) brain tumor occurs when cancer cells spread to the brain from a primary cancer in another part of the body.
What types of brain tumors are there? - About half of all primary brain tumors are known collectively as gliomas. Some brain tumors are categorized by their location in the brain.
What causes brain tumors? - The majority of brain tumors have abnormalities of genes involved in cell cycle control, causing uncontrolled cell growth.
What're the risk factors for brain tumors? - Risk factors for brain tumors include age, environmental or occupational risk factors, diseases associated with brain tumors.
What're the complications of brain tumors? - Brain tumors may lead to an emergency complication known as hydrocephalus. A brain tumor can cause temporary or permanent brain damage.
What're the symptoms of brain tumors? - Symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on the size and location of tumor. Many symptoms are related to an increase in pressure in or around the brain.
How is brain tumor diagnosed? - Brain tumor is diagnosed through a combination of symptoms and evaluation of neurological functions.
What's the treatment for brain tumors? - The approach for treating brain tumors is to reduce the tumor as much as possible using surgery, radiation treatment, chemotherapy, or investigative procedures.
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