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Talk to your doctor if several people in your family have been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Your doctor can recommend a genetic counselor for you. Brain tumors in general are more common among Caucasians. However, African-American people are more likely to get meningiomas. Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as those you might find in a work environment, can increase your risk for brain cancer. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health keeps a list of potential cancer-causing chemicals found in work places.

People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain tumors. You can be exposed to ionizing radiation through high-radiation cancer therapies. You can also be exposed to radiation from nuclear fallout. The nuclear power plant incidents in Fukushima and Chernobyl are examples of how people can be exposed to ionizing radiation.


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According to the American Brain Tumor Association , people with a history of childhood chicken pox have a decreased risk of getting brain tumors. Symptoms of brain tumors depend on the location and size of the tumor. Some tumors cause direct damage by invading brain tissue and some tumors cause pressure on the surrounding brain. The physical exam includes a very detailed neurological examination. Your doctor will conduct a test to see if your cranial nerves are intact. These are the nerves that originate in your brain. Your doctor will look inside your eyes with an ophthalmoscope, which is an instrument that shines a light through your pupils and onto your retinas.

This allows your doctor to check how your pupils react to light. When pressure increases inside the skull, changes in the optic nerve can occur. CT scans are ways for your doctor get a more detailed scan of your body than they could with an X-ray machine. This can be done with or without contrast. Contrast is achieved in a CT scan of the head by using a special dye that helps doctors see some structures, like blood vessels, more clearly.

The Most Common Brain Tumor: 5 Things You Should Know

If you have an MRI of your head , a special dye can be used to help your doctor detect tumors. The dye travels to the arteries in your brain. It allows your doctor to see what the blood supply of the tumors looks like. This information is useful at the time of surgery. Brain tumors can cause breaks or fractures in the bones of the skull, and specific X-rays can show if this has occurred.

These X-rays can also pick up calcium deposits, which are sometimes contained within a tumor. Calcium deposits may be in your bloodstream if your cancer has moved to your bones.

Brain Tumors

A small piece of the tumor is obtained during a biopsy. A specialist called a neuropathologist will examine it.

What Is a Tumor?

The biopsy will identify if the tumor cells are benign or malignant. It will also determine whether the cancer originated in your brain or another part of your body. The most common treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy parts of the brain.

Adult brain tumors - causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

While the location of some tumors allows for easy and safe removal, other tumors may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumor can be removed. Even partial removal of brain cancer can be beneficial. Risks of brain surgery include infection and bleeding.


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  • Clinically dangerous benign tumors are also surgically removed. Metastatic brain tumors are treated according to guidelines for the type of original cancer. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help you to recover after neurosurgery. Early treatment can prevent complications that can occur as a tumor grows and puts pressure on the skull and brain tissue.

    A common symptom of a brain tumor is headaches. However, most headaches aren't a sign of a brain tumor.


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    • We'll tell you how to tell the difference…. Learn about pilocytic astrocytoma, a type of brain tumor that affects children. Learn the definition of a ependymoma, including its symptoms and causes. They are stories of hope, sadness, love, and loss. View the brain tumor stories and share your own story. Free Brain Tumor Guide - Click to download. You are here. Diagnosis If you have symptoms that suggest a brain tumor, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your personal and family health history.

      You may have one or more of the following tests: Neurologic exam : Your doctor checks your vision, hearing, alertness, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes. Your doctor also examines your eyes to look for swelling caused by a tumor pressing on the nerve that connects the eye and the brain.

      Types of Benign Brain Tumors

      MRI : A large machine with a strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside your head. Sometimes a special dye contrast material is injected into a blood vessel in your arm or hand to help show differences in the tissues of the brain. The pictures can show abnormal areas, such as a tumor. CT scan : An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of your head. You may receive contrast material by injection into a blood vessel in your arm or hand.

      The contrast material makes abnormal areas easier to see. Your doctor may ask for other tests: Angiogram : Dye injected into the bloodstream makes blood vessels in the brain show up on an x-ray.

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      If a tumor is present, the x-ray may show the tumor or blood vessels that are feeding into the tumor. Spinal tap : Your doctor may remove a sample of cerebrospinal fluid the fluid that fills the spaces in and around the brain and spinal cord. This procedure is performed with local anesthesia. The doctor uses a long, thin needle to remove fluid from the lower part of the spinal column.

      A spinal tap takes about 30 minutes.

      Types of Diagnostic Tests - Brain Tumors & Brain Cancer - ABC2

      You must lie flat for several hours afterward to keep from getting a headache. A laboratory checks the fluid for cancer cells or other signs of problems. Biopsy : The removal of tissue to look for tumor cells is called a biopsy. A pathologist looks at the cells under a microscope to check for abnormal cells. A biopsy can show cancer, tissue changes that may lead to cancer, and other conditions. A biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose a brain tumor, learn what grade it is, and plan treatment.