Brain tumors are deadly diseases. Nowadays, people of any age can be diagnosed with brain tumors. However, don’t jump to conclusions if your symptoms resemble those of a brain tumor. You need to visit a doctor, and the neurologist can determine whether you have a brain tumor. The specialist runs several tests and procedures to diagnose brain tumors.
Diagnosis of Brain Tumors
There are many types of brain tumors, with many people arguing about glioma vs glioblastoma diagnosis and treatment. Here are ways specialists diagnose brain tumors;
Head CT Scan
Computed tomography (CT) makes pictures using X-rays. A neurologist recommends a CT scan if the patient has headaches or other symptoms of brain tumors. The results from the CT scan help the specialist to determine the treatment.
A Neurological Exam
A neurological exam determines vision, balance, hearing, reflexes, and body strength. Though it can’t detect a brain tumor, it helps a specialist understand brain function. If the exams detect a problem, the doctor recommends further tests.
PET Scan of the Brain
A positron emission tomography scan (PET) can detect certain brain tumors. The specialists can discuss glioma vs glioblastoma after the scan. It has a radioactive tracer to detect tumors. It can detect cells quickly multiplying in the brain. If the tracer takes up more cells, it’s a sign of a brain tumor.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnets to detect brain tumors. The specialist injects a dye in the vein in the arm to develop clear pictures of the brain tissue. Sometimes a specialist can recommend a functional MRI to examine brain function further. Another MRI test is magnetic resonance perfusion which shows the parts of the brain with more blood and an active tumor.
Testing Tissue Sample in the Lab
A brain biopsy is the process of testing brain tissue in the lab. Depending on how it appears under the microscope, the specialist determines whether the cell is cancerous or noncancerous. If the cell is cancerous, the doctor recommends the best treatment.
Types of Brain Cancer Treatment
A specialist determines brain tumor treatment depending on the following;
- The type, location, and size
- Possible side effects
- Patient’s health
- Whether the tumor affects vital parts of the brain
The common brain tumor treatments include;
Surgery is the process of removing the tumor through an operation. The neurologist removes part of the skull, removes the tumor, and uses the patient’s bone to cover the skull. With the improvement in the field of medicine, doctors can carry out surgery safely. A fluorescent dye helps doctors to locate tumor cells easily during surgery. Also, enhanced imaging technology increases the accuracy of tumor removal.
Doctors usually recommend radiation therapy after surgery. It involves the use of high-energy X-rays to kill the tumor cells. The oncologist uses implants to perform internal radiation therapy. It includes internal radiation therapy. However, the oncologist can conduct external beam radiation therapy through;
- Conventional radiation therapy uses anatomic radiation and X-rays depending on the tumor’s grade.
- 3-dimensional conformal therapy (3D-CRT) involves using CT and MRI scans to direct radiation beams to the tumor. Other ways to use external beam radiation include;
- Proton therapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
- Fractionated stereotactic radiation therapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
It involves using drugs to destroy brain tumor cells. This treatment involves several cycles in a specific time frame. Mostly, doctors recommend chemotherapy after surgery or radiation therapy if the tumor keeps recurring. Chemotherapy depends on the type of brain tumor in a patient. For example, patients with glioblastoma are treated using radiation therapy and low doses of temozolomide. Those with grade III oligodendroglioma receive radiation therapy with a combination of three drugs, including vincristine, lomustine, and procarbazine.
Therapies Using Medication
Certain medications can destroy cancer cells. Medications are administered to the patient in the bloodstream through an intravenous tube (IV). However, patients can also take oral medicine. The most common medication for brain tumors is targeted therapy and chemotherapy. However, experts are still working to develop brain tumor medications with fewer side effects.
While many people argue about glioma vs glioblastoma, early diagnosis of brain tumors can lengthen a patient’s life. Though brain tumor treatment can be lengthy, some patients heal from the disease completely with the help of neurologists. However, experts in the medical field are working daily to develop better brain cancer treatments.