Understanding Brain Tumors
Updated: Feb 16, 2018
Besides the fact that they suck!! They are confusing, complex, have no cure and still have tons of research that needs to be done on them! They are frequently misdiagnosed because there are so many different types and new types of tumors arise and make it even more confusing to properly diagnos. It is scary enough to find out you have a brain tumor but even worse to have it being changed around and having multiple opinions from multiple doctors. For example I was first diagnosed in 2016 with a Benign Ogliodendroglioma and then it changed to a Grade II Mixed Oligoastrocytoma now I have Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma.
QUICK BRAIN TUMOR FACTS
Today, an estimated 700,000 people in the United States are living with a primary brain tumor, and over 79,000 were diagnosed in 2017. Brain tumors can be deadly, significantly impact quality of life, and change everything for a patient and their loved ones. They do not discriminate, inflicting men, women, and children of all races and ethnicities.
While it is normal to feel scared, insecure, or angry about a brain tumor diagnosis, you can empower yourself to cope by taking this one step at a time. Start gathering information. Talk to everyone who can be a resource to you. No question is too trivial and ASK as many questions as needed. You are paying that doctor, they work for you! I will work on a list of questions to ask and update this!
Below is information to help you get started. In addition, please consult the comprehensive resource guide, Frankly Speaking About Cancer: Brain Tumors and start empowering yourself to tackle this disease and lead a productive life.
You can also consult the National Cancer Institute’s online book, What You Need to Know About Brain Tumors.
WHAT IS A BRAIN TUMOR?
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. Doctors refer to a tumor based on where the tumor cells originated, and whether they are cancerous (malignant) or not (benign).
Benign: The least aggressive type of brain tumor is often called a benign brain tumor. They originate from cells within or surrounding the brain, do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly, and typically have clear borders that do not spread into other tissue.
Malignant: Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and often do not have clear borders. They are considered to be life threatening because they grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain tissue.
Primary: Tumors that start in cells of the brain are called primary brain tumors. Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but rarely to other organs.
Metastatic: Metastatic or secondary brain tumors begin in another part of the body and then spread to the brain. These tumors are more common than primary brain tumors and are named by the location in which they begin.
There are over 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors. Brain and spinal cord tumors are different for everyone. They form in different areas, develop from different cell types, and may have different treatment options.
Learn more about tumor types.
SYMPTOMS AND DIAGNOSIS
Brain tumor symptoms can vary according to tumor type and location. There are times a person may have no symptoms when their brain tumor is discovered
Issues with vision
Changes in personality
Short-term memory loss
Difficulty speaking or comprehending
Whatever symptoms you have, discuss them fully with your physician so everyone has the most accurate information.
Diagnosing a brain tumor can be a complicated process and involve a number of specialists, depending on where you live or where you seek medical attention. A brain scan, most often an MRI, is the first step. A biopsy may be necessary, so a pathologist can be brought in to help identify the brain tumor type.
Download full chapter on “Understanding Brain Tumors” from Frankly Speaking