Radiation Therapy for Brain Tumor

Radiation therapy uses high-powered rays to damage cancer cells and stop them from growing. It is often used when surgery is not possible or not all of the tumor was removed. Radiation may be given in two ways. External radiation treatments are given five days a week for several weeks. The treatment depends on the type and size of the tumor and age of the patient. Radiation can also be placed directly into the tumor. Depending on material used, the implant may be left in the brain for a short time or perman...

Surgery for brain tumors?

Surgery is the usual treatment for most brain tumors. To remove the tumor, the neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull. This is called a craniotomy. Whenever possible, the surgeon removes all of the brain tumor, but sometimes only part can be removed if removing would cause damage to vital brain tissue. Some tumors cannot be removed, and a biopsy is done to help decide treatment. Sometimes the biopsy can be done with a CT scan or MRI to pinpoint the tumor’s exact location, and only a small hole is needed...

What are the types of brain tumors?

There are primary and secondary brain tumors. Tumors that begin in brain tissue are known as primary tumors. Secondary tumors are when cancer spreads from another site to the brain, which is called metastasis. Brain tumors are classified by the type of tissue in which they begin. The most common brain tumors are gliomas. Types of gliomas: Astrocytomas arise from small, star-shaped cells called astrocytes. They may grow anywhere in the brain or spinal cord. In adults, astrocytomas most often arise in the cer...

How is a brain tumor diagnosed?

The doctor does a complete physical exam with special attention to neurological examination. This includes checks for alertness, muscle strength, coordination, reflexes and response to pain. The doctor also examines the eyes for swelling caused by a tumor pressing on the nerve that connects the eye and the brain. The doctor may request a CT (or CAT) scan or an MRI. A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of the brain. The pictures are created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine. Sometimes dyes are i...

What are the causes of brain tumors?

The causes of brain tumors are not known. Brain tumors are not contagious. They can occur at any age, although they are most common in children 3-12 years old and adults 40-70 years old. Risk factors include working in industries such as oil refining, rubber manufacturing and drug manufacturing; other studies show chemists and embalmers have higher incidence of brain tumors. Researchers also are looking at exposure to viruses as a possible cause. Brain tumors sometimes occur in several members of the same f...

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

The symptoms depend on the size of the tumor and the location. Symptoms are caused by damage to vital tissue and by pressure from the tumor or swelling, which may happen if the tumor blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Headaches that tend to be worse in the morning Seizures Nausea and vomiting Weakness or loss of feeling in arms and legs Stumbling or lack of coordination in walking Abnormal eye movements or changes in vision Drowsiness Changes in personality or memory Changes in speech

What is brain cancer?

Benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells, but they can press on sensitive areas in the brain and cause symptoms. They are usually a collection of extra cells that cause a mass of tissue called a "tumor." They typically have clear borders and do not invade surrounding areas. They usually can be removed by surgery and are not likely to grow back. Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells that can grow like a plant and put out "roots" that grow into healthy brain tissue and interfere with vital functi...

What are the treatment options for bone cancer?

Treatment options depend on the type, size, location and stage of the cancer, as well as the person’s age and general health. The three main types of treatment for bone cancer are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Surgery is often the primary treatment. Although amputation of a limb is sometimes necessary, pre- or post-operative chemotherapy has made limb-sparing surgery possible in most cases. When appropriate, surgeons avoid amputation by removing only the cancerous section of the bone and repl...

How is bone cancer diagnosed?

To diagnose bone cancer, the doctor asks about the patient’s personal and family medical history and does a complete medical exam. The doctor may suggest a blood test, since some bone tumors can be associated with increased levels of certain proteins in the blood. X-rays can show the location, size, and shape of a bone tumor. If x-rays suggest that a tumor may be cancer, the doctor may recommend special imaging tests such as a bone scan, a CT (or CAT) scan, an MRI, or an angiogram. However, a biopsy—the rem...

What are the symptoms of bone cancer?

The symptoms of bone cancer vary from person to person, depending on the location and size of the cancer. Pain is the most common symptom. Tumors that occur in or near joints may cause swelling or tenderness in the affected area. Bone cancer can also interfere with normal movements and can weaken the bones, occasionally leading to a fracture. Other symptoms may include fatigue, fever, weight loss, and anemia. None of these symptoms is a sure sign of cancer. They may also be caused by other, less serious con...

What are the risk factors for bone cancer?

There are a number of factors that may put a person at increased risk for bone cancer. Children and adolescents, particularly those who have had radiation or chemotherapy treatments for other conditions, develop bone cancer more frequently than adults. Adults with Paget’s disease, a noncancerous condition characterized by abnormal development of new bone cells, may be at increased risk for osteosarcoma. A very small number of bone cancers are due to heredity. For example, children with hereditary retinoblas...

Are there different types of primary bone cancer?

There are several types of cancer that start in the bones. The most common is osteosarcoma, which often develops in new tissue in growing bones. Evidence suggests that Ewing’s sarcoma (see Ewing’s family of tumors), another form of bone cancer, begins in immature nerve tissue in bone marrow. Osteosarcoma and Ewing’s sarcoma tend to occur more frequently in children and adolescents, while chondrosarcoma, which starts in cartilage, occurs more often in adults.

What is the difference between primary bone cancer and secondary bone cancer?

Primary bone cancer refers to cancers that start in the bone.  Secondary bone cancer is cancer that spreads to the bone from another part of the body. Primary bone cancer is rare, with approximately 2,400 new cases diagnosed each year in the United States. More commonly, bones are the site of tumors that result from the spread (metastasis) of cancer from other parts of the body such as the breasts, lungs or prostate. Bone metastases can cause pain and can lead to other symptoms such as hypercalcemia (abnorm...

What is Bone Cancer?

Cancer that starts in the bone (primary bone cancer) is relatively rare, with about 2,500 cases diagnosed in the United States each year. The most common types of bone cancer occur more frequently in children and young adults, while other bone cancer is primarily found in adults over 50. Each case of bone cancer is serious, but tremendous advances have been made in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and reconstructive surgery, greatly increasing the long-term survival rate. The most common type of bone cancer ...

What exactly is a clinical trial? Should I participate in one?

Clinical trials are studies that help evaluate a new treatment. Clinical trials attempt to answer scientific questions and to find new and better ways to help cancer patients. An institutional review board (IRB) carefully reviews the study before patients begin participation in the clinical trial. Also, some studies are reviewed by government agencies, such as the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Anyone wishing to participate in a clinical trial should speak with ...

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