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Brain Cancer Health Center

Brain Tumors in Adults

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What's the Difference Between Benign and Malignant Brain Tumors? continued...

Benign brain tumors usually have clearly defined borders and usually are not deeply rooted in brain tissue. This makes them easier to surgically remove, assuming they are in an area of the brain that can be safely operated on. But even after they've been removed, they can still come back, although benign tumors are less likely to recur than malignant ones.

Although benign tumors in other parts of the body can cause problems, they are not generally considered to be a major health problem or to be life-threatening. But even a benign brain tumor can be a serious health problem. Brain tumors damage the cells around them by causing inflammation and putting increased pressure on the tissue under and around it as well as inside the skull.

What Are the Symptoms of a Brain Tumor in Adults?

Symptoms of brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body, where the tumor lies affects the way symptoms are manifested.

Some tumors have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health. Other tumors may have symptoms that develop slowly.

A common initial symptom of a brain tumor is headaches. Often, they don't respond to the usual headache remedies. Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumors.

 

Other symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Changes in speech or hearing
  • Changes in vision
  • Balance problems
  • Problems with walking
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Problems with memory
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weakness in one part of the body

It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don't assume you have a brain tumor just because you experience some of them. Check with your doctor.

How Are Brain Tumors Diagnosed?

To diagnose a brain tumor, the doctor starts by asking questions about your symptoms and taking a personal and family health history. Then he or she performs a physical exam, including a neurological exam. If there's reason to suspect a brain tumor, the doctor may request one or more of the following tests:

  • Imaging studies such as a CT(CAT) scan or MRI to see detailed images of the brain
  • Angiogram or MRA, which involve the use of dye and X-rays of blood vessels in the brain to look for signs of a tumor or abnormal blood vessels

The doctor may also ask for a biopsy to determine whether or not the tumor is cancer. A tissue sample is removed from the brain either during surgery to remove the tumor or with a needle inserted through a small hole drilled into the skull before treatment is started. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing.

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