Primary Brain Tumor | Neurology & Neurosurgery | Loyola Medicine

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Primary Brain Tumor

Overview and Facts about Primary Brain Tumor

A primary brain tumor is a clump of cells that grows out of control and forms a distinct mass in the brain. Brain tumors can be both cancerous (meaning they can spread to other parts of the body and start growing uncontrollably) and benign (meaning the cells may keep growing, but they will stay clumped together in the tumor).

There are numerous kinds of brain tumors, but the two most common ones are:

  • Gliomas, which account for 78 percent of cancerous brain tumors
  • Meningiomas, which account for 10 to 15 percent of all benign brain tumors

Signs and Symptoms of Primary Brain Tumor

Symptoms of a primary brain tumor can vary greatly depending on which part of the brain the tumor is growing in. However, some symptoms you may experience include:

  • Changes in vision and hearing
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Disorientation, confusing and personality changes
  • Headaches, especially ones that wake you up at night or are worse in the morning
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness or tingling in the face
  • Paralysis or weakness in the limbs or one side of the body
  • Problems swallowing
  • Problems with dizziness and balance

Causes and Risk Factors of Primary Brain Tumor

Specialists believe brain tumors are caused by mutations in a person’s genes. When these mutations occur, cells don’t remember how to reproduce correctly, which causes them to start growing out of control. As these cells reproduce, the tumor grows larger.

Because of this, there are many genetic diseases associated with primary brain tumors. These include:

  • Cowden disease, which causes tumor-like growths throughout the body
  • Gorlin syndrome, which causes tumors throughout the body, especially the skin
  • Turcot syndrome, which also causes colorectal cancer
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease, which causes tumors and fluid-filled sacs in 10 different areas of the body

Tests and Diagnosis of Primary Brain Tumor

To get a diagnosis, you will have to visit a neurologist. The neurologist will ask about your symptoms and perform a physical exam. They may also conduct some of the following tests:

  • A brain biopsy to get a tissue sample from the brain and see if it is cancerous
  • A CT or MRI scan of the head to look for tumors
  • A PET scan to see if cancer originated in the brain or spread from somewhere else
  • Neurological tests to see how well your nervous system is functioning

Treatment and Care for Primary Brain Tumor

Treating brain tumors can be difficult, as they are often intertwined with healthy parts of the brain. In most cases, your doctor will recommend a mix of the following treatments to get rid of your tumor: