What type of tumor do I have?
Well there are over a hundred and twenty different types of brain tumors. So it’s very important to find out which one you have. If someone comes to my office and they’ve been told they have a brain tumor that’s just the beginning. We have to find out what it is.
And you have all of these different types of tumors. Those that come from the brain itself, those that are benign or malignant, those that come from the lining of the brain or the supportive structures in the brain, and those that come from elsewhere in the body and travel to the brain to form tumors. We have to suspect that it’s any one of those and then we have to do the proper tests and investigations to find out what the diagnosis is.
That almost always requires an operation; at the very least a biopsy. And in cases where we can remove the tumor we frequently will recommend that we remove the tumor with surgery. In terms of what type of brain tumor it’s important to understand where tumors come from. A tumor can arise from any cell in your body. That’s why people get tumors in their skin and they can get it in their stomach and they can get it in their brain. Tumors that arise from the brain come in a variety of different types because there are a variety of different cells in the brain that can form tumors.
Benign tumors of course are always a very happy diagnosis because in general we can deal effectively with benign tumors. Benign tumors tend to arise from the supporting structures of the brain. For instance, the lining of the skull that helps keep the brain fluid and the brain intact is called the meninges. And a benign tumor, called a meningioma, which is very common, arises like a wart from the lining of the brain. That’s completely benign. It’s not cancerous. And it can be dealt with effectively in most cases.
Benign tumors can also arise from the nerves that leave the brain. Those are called Schwannomas. And it goes on and on. Malignant tumors of course are a big challenge anywhere in the body, but particularly in the brain. Malignant tumors are the real focus of what we do at the Ivy Center.
Most common type of malignant tumor that arises from the brain itself is called a Glioma and it comes in several grades. The highest or most malignant form being a glioblastoma. And glioblastoma happens to be the most common form of primary brain cancer that we see. So we spend a lot of time and a lot of effort trying to help patients with glioblastoma and also understand how best to treat Glioblastoma through a lot of different research that we do.
You also can have tumors that can come from elsewhere in the body that then metastasize in the brain. This is also a very big problem that we see in our patients. Someone may have for instance; skin cancer – a mole that has become cancerous and cells then migrate away from that mole and enter the blood or lymphatic system. It eventually spreads to other places in the body including the brain. And once it takes root in the brain it can form a new tumor in the brain, sometimes multiple tumors. That can happen with breast cancer. That can happen with lung cancer.
So this is also a problem that we have to deal with. The brain requires very special skills and instruments to operate effectively there and to treat these types of tumors.
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