Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer—Adult
- Primary brain cancer—This begins in the brain. It can be either malignant or benign. A small benign tumor in a bad location can cause significant problems.
- Secondary or metastatic brain cancer—This has spread to the brain from another site in the body. All metastatic tumors are malignant.
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- Immune system dysfunction
- Family history of certain types of cancer
Headache—Most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. Headaches due to brain tumors tend to have the following features:
- Worsens over a period of weeks to months
- Worse in the morning or causes you to wake during the night
- Different than a normal headache
- Worsens with change of posture, straining, or coughing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Weakness in arms and/or legs
- Loss of sensation in arms and/or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Hearing loss or vision loss (including double vision)
- Speech problems
- Memory problems
- Personality changes
- Your doctor may need pictures of structures inside your body. This can be done with:
- Your doctor may need to remove a sample of brain tissue for testing. This can be done with a biopsy or stereotaxis.
- Steroids to decrease swelling and fluid buildup
- Anticonvulsants to prevent seizures
- Craniotomy—opening the skull to remove the tumor or as much of the tumor as possible
- Shunt—implanting a long thin tube in the brain to divert built-up fluid to another part of the body
- External radiation therapy—Radiation is directed at the tumor from a source outside the body. If you have a metastatic brain tumor, you will receive whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT). If you have a primary brain tumor, you will receive more focused radiation therapy. WRBT may also be used in people who have cancer in other areas of the body. The treatment is used to prevent brain cancer.
- Internal radiation therapy—Radioactive materials placed into the body near the cancer cells. This is used less often.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery—Higher doses can be delivered to the affected areas of the brain. Nearby normal tissue can be spared. Special equipment, including MRI and CT scans, help to focus the radiation. This is most often used in metastatic brain tumors or in benign brain tumors, such as meningiomas.
- Physical therapy to help with walking, balance, and building strength
- Occupational therapy to help with mastering life skills, such as dressing, eating, and using the toilet
- Speech therapy to help express thoughts and overcome swallowing difficulties
American Brain Tumor Association http://www.abta.org/
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/
Canadian Cancer Society http://www.cancer.ca/
Cancer Care Ontario http://www.cancercare.on.ca/
Abeloff MD. Clinical Oncology. 2nd ed. New York, NY. Churchill Livingstone, Inc; 2000.
Brain Tumor. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/brain. Accessed January 18, 2013.
Cecil RL, Goldman L, Bennett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA. WB Saunders Company; 2000.
Conn HF, Rakel RE. Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. Philadelphia, PA. WB Saunders Company;2001.
12/20/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: 2007 safety alerts for drugs, biologics, medical devices, and dietary supplements: Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol and generics). Medwatch. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/safety/2007/safety07.htm#carbamazepine.
5/28/2008 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Tremont-Lukats IW, Ratilal BO, Armstrong T, Gilbert MR. Antiepileptic drugs for preventing seizures in people with brain tumors. The Cochrane Library. 2008; DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004424.pub2.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 01/18/2013 -