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Brain and Skull Base Tumors

Background

Like most areas of the body, tumors which originate in the brain, on the coverings of the brain or in the pituitary (primary brain tumors) can be divided into malignant (cancerous) and benign tumors. Tumors of the brain include glioblastoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymoma, lymphoma and pineal tumors, among others. Tumors of the surface of the brain include meningiomas and cysts. Tumors of the pituitary include adenomas, Rathke’s cleft cysts and craniopharyngiomas.

Unlike malignant tumors in other parts of the body, malignant tumors of the brain rarely spread outside of the brain.

Unlike benign tumors of other parts of the body, benign tumors of the brain are often life threatening, not because of their growth rate, but because of their lovation.

Tumors from other parts of the body can often spread to the brain. These are called brain b. Unlike primary brain tumors, brain metastases rarely infiltrate surrounding brain, so they can be easier to control with either surgery or Cyberknife.

Skull Base Tumors may not be from the brain at all, but because they lie under the brain, brain tumor specialists are needed to treat them. Skull base tumors include meningiomas, chordomas, schwannomas, olfactory neuroblastomas and sinus tumors.

Evaluation

Brain tumors and skull base tumors produce a variety of symptoms, depending on their location, size and invasiveness. This include headache, seizures, visual loss, double vision, weakness, fatigue, numbness, difficulty walking, in-coordination, confusion and personality changes.

Diagnosis

Imaging studies, typically include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and computer tomography (CT) scans. Other tests such as CT or MR angiograms may also be needed. MR spectroscopy and PET scans can tell us about the activity of your tumor.

Visual field tests and audiograms can quantify deficits. Hormonal tests can tell us about the nature of the cells of the tumor.

Biopsy of the tumor can be obtained stereotactically, through a tiny incision, if the type of tumor is still uncertain. 

Treatment

The best treatment for patients with brain tumors depends on the tumor’s type and location, and on the symptoms and overall health of the patient. Treatments may include surgical removal, radiosurgery, Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy, chemotherapy and hormonal therapies. Newer treatments available through the Tulsa Brain Tumor Clinic include Novocure alternating magnetic field therapy, and Exablate MR-guided focused ultrasound.

Learn more:  about Techniques & Technology for Safe & Effective Brain Surgery 

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Comprehensive Brain Tumor Care and Pituitary Disorders Program