A cancerous growth in the brain. Also called an intracranial tumour. Brain tumors may be life threatening and may cause many health problems. About 16,800 brain tumors are diagnosed in the United States per year, and brain tumor is the cause of death in about 13,000 people per year.

Symptoms

About half of the people that have brain tumors experience intense headaches, and these are usually headaches that are worse in the morning and that dissipate during the day. A number of people have migraine headaches. Some patients also experience seizures that affect a loss of consciousness. Changes in equilibrium, in movements, or in motor strength and changes in concentration and focus can all be indications of a brain tumor.

Diagnosis

The doctor may suspect a brain tumor, but it cannot be definitively diagnosed until a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan is performed.

Treatment

If a brain tumor is diagnosed, usually it’s the neurologist, or specialist in the brain and spinal cord, who treats the disorder. If operation is desired, a neurosurgeon performs the process. Occasionally, the tumour is treated with radiation therapy. Some patients are also followed with chemotherapy, determined by the kind of tumour.

Technology has improved to the point that some of the newer and higher performance MRI scanners can be used to follow patients with brain tumors after they’ve had surgery or radiation treatment. Using a technique called MRI Spectroscopy, the doctor is now able to differentiate between brain tissue that’s a remaining tumour versus brain tissue that’s scarred or irritated from a stroke or radiation. Ultimately, following up with a practitioner continues to be required.