Brain tumors exist as a group of abnormal cells in the brain. There are many different kinds, both benign and malignant. Brain cancer may begin in the brain, called a primary brain tumor, or it may begin elsewhere and metastasize to the brain, called a secondary or metastatic brain tumor. Brain cancer treatment varies widely and depends upon the nature and degree of the tumor. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center we create customized treatment plans for our patients with among the top brain cancer doctors Los Angeles has available.
Signs and symptoms of brain cancer
There are many different symptoms of brain tumors, and each depends upon what kind of tumor, where it’s located and its size. Signs and symptoms of brain tumors include:
- A new pattern of headaches
- A gradual increase in severity and frequency of headaches
- Nausea or vomiting that is unexplained
- Vision problems
- Loss of sensation in the limbs
- Balance difficulty
- Speech difficulty
- Confusion regarding rudimentary subjects
- Hearing issues
Should any of the above symptoms appear, it is wise to make an appointment with a doctor to receive proper testing to either rule out or diagnose brain tumors.
Testing and diagnosis
There are a number of tests to detect the onset or existence of a brain tumor, including:
- A neurological exam, which will study basic brain functions such as hearing, balance, reflexes and vision. If there is difficulty in one or more of these functions, it may indicate a brain tumor is interfering with brain activity.
- Imaging tests are very common in the diagnosis of brain tumors. MRIs, CT scans and PET scans are all effective in allowing doctors to visualize the brain and detect any abnormal formations.
- If it is thought that brain cancer is resulting from primary cancer in another location, tests may be performed to detect cancer elsewhere. This may be done in many different ways, such as imaging tests to detect abnormal or cancerous cells.
- A brain tissue biopsy may be done to examine abnormal tissue in the brain. In this procedure, a needle is introduced into the brain, which then withdraws a sample of tissue for laboratory examination. This type of test is helpful in determining what type of treatment will be most effective.
Treatment for brain cancer
There are many treatment options for brain cancer. The exact type or combination or types is dependent upon the cancer itself. Because each case of brain cancer is unique, the doctor will tailor a treatment plan that is specific to the exact circumstances.
Brain surgery may be necessary to remove part of the tumor. In some cases, removal of the entire tumor may be possible. In many cases, even removal of part of the tumor can dramatically reduce signs and symptoms. Brain surgery is possible when the tumor is located in a place where it is accessible by surgery. If it is not, other treatment options can be pursued by the highly skilled brain cancer doctors at our Los Angeles facility.
Radiation therapy can be used in the treatment of brain tumors. It may be done on an external basis, from a machine that directs high-focus beams of energy at the tumor, or it may be done internally, in which case a radiation-emitting device is placed very close to the tumor.
Radiosurgery is a very precise method of brain cancer treatment using multiple beams of radiation to focus on a specific location in the brain. Each beam is not particularly powerful, but when the multiple beams converge, the point of convergence is subjected to a large dose of radiation.
Chemotherapy may be an effective option for brain cancer treatment depending upon the case. This procedure uses drugs to kill cancerous cells in the brain. These drugs are typically administered intravenously, but in some cases they may be taken orally. In the case of brain cancer, there is another type of chemotherapy. The doctor may place a disk-shaped device in the brain where the tumor once sat. This device slowly releases a chemotherapy drug in the following days to ensure the cancer is fully eliminated.
Targeted drug therapy uses drugs to target specific abnormalities in cancerous cells. These drugs are “trained” to seek out these abnormalities and eliminate them.
Rehabilitation for brain cancer patients
Brain cancer may affect certain basic functions in patients, such as motor skills, speech and vision. Because of this, rehabilitation is sometimes necessary following treatment to remove the tumor. Rehabilitation can include physical therapy to regain motor skills, occupational therapy to get patients back to their normal routine, speech therapy and even tutoring on basic subjects. The staff at the Beverly Hills Cancer Center can ensure our patients are connected to the very best brain cancer doctors in Los Angeles, and the world, expert in rehabilitation following brain cancer.
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