When you are facing the possibility of brain surgery you want to know you are receiving the highest level of treatment and care. For over 50 years, Kettering Health Network has been among the first to offer the most innovative brain and spine care technology.
Brain Tumor: An Overview
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells within the brain. These tumors may be primary (starting in the brain) or metastatic (travels from another part of the body to the brain). Brain tumors are either benign (non-cancerous), or malignant (invasive and cancerous).
Even if a brain tumor is benign, it can still be dangerous. When a tumor grows, it can push or press on an area of the brain and possibly prevent that part of the brain from functioning the way it should. It is important that all brain tumors be evaluated, and a treatment plan determined as soon as possible.
Most brain tumors appear in the upper part of the brain. This is the region of the brain that controls thought, emotion, reasoning, and language.
These symptoms occur due to pressure on the brain created by the tumor. Symptoms typically include headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting, weakness/numbness in the arms or legs, difficulty with speech, trouble thinking, vision problems and changes in personality. To determine the exact cause of these symptoms, your neuroscience team will perform neurological evaluations and neuro diagnostic testing.
Types of Tumors
Cancerous brain tumors are defined as:
- Primary – originating in the brain. These are then classified into two groups
- Glial tumors: Glial tumors, or gliomas are the most common type of primary brain tumors. They arise from the connective tissue of the brain. Types of gliomas include astrocytomas, glioblastoma, oligodendrogliomas and ependymomas. Most gliomas infiltrate brain tissue. These tumors make up 50% of all brain tumors.
- Non-glial tumors: Meningiomas comprise approximately 25% of brain tumors, with pituitary tumors making up 10% and acoustic neuromas comprising 7.5%. Other tumor types, including chondrosarcomas, germinomas, hemangiomas, teratomas, and chordomas, make up the remaining 7.5%
- Secondary – Metastatic tumors, start in another part of the body and spread to the brain.
Benign brain tumors are defined as:
- Meningiomas – A tumor that grows from the meninges of the brain. Generally benign, but can be malignant.
- Acoustic Neuroma – Benign tumor on ear nerve.
- Pituitary Adenomas – Benign tumors
Brain tumors are identified by the type of cell from which they arose or by the location in the brain where they occur. The World Health Organization (WHO) classification system is used to classify brain tumors by cell origin and how the cells behave, from the least aggressive, (benign)-WHO I, to the most aggressive (malignant)-WHO IV.
There are several factors that help determine a treatment plan (type, size, growth rate and location) and because of this, each patient's treatment is personalized by the WKNI Team. Your neuroscience specialist will decide which treatment option(s) are best for you.
Medical treatment may include:
- Close monitoring by your physician with neurological examination and neuro imaging.
- Treament may include anticonvulsants and/or steroids.
With today's leaps in modern neuroscience, brain surgery has advanced significantly, resulting in better surgical outcomes. These advancements include:
- Craniotomy using STEALTH technology - Opening the skull and removing the brain tumor utilizing computer navigation.
- Awake Craniotomy is performed while the patient is awake to identify high functioning areas within the brain which allows precise surgical treatment and improved patient outcomes.
- Stereotactic Biopsy is a procedure where a small sample of tumor tissue is taken to determine tumor type.
- Transphenoidal Surgery is a surgical approach to remove pituitary tumors through the nose and sinuses.
- Gliadel® Wafers, if indicated, may be implanted during the surgical procedure. These powerful biodegradable wafers with chemotherapy agents are placed in the tumor bed.