Some people have severe, obvious symptoms that lead to a diagnosis of a brain tumor, while others are blindsided when they have imaging tests for other reasons and a tumor is discovered. Once a tumor is identified, several approaches are needed to identify the exact problem and develop a treatment plan.

Definitive Diagnosis

In some cases, a brain tumor might be diagnosed after a CT or MRI, but the radiologist may not be able to determine the exact type. Due to the quality of imaging tests, especially MRIs, some brain tumors have a characteristic look on imaging that makes it easy to determine its type quickly. If the diagnosis is not certain, your neurosurgeon will ask for additional tests. These tests might include additional imaging and/or a surgical procedure to biopsy the tumor. If the tumor is in an accessible location, the surgeon might schedule surgery for removal of the tumor, and it will be biopsied at that time. Your treatment plan will be contingent upon the type of tumor, its location, and any symptoms you have. In some cases, small, benign tumors that are not causing problems might be watched for many years before any action is necessary.

Symptom Management

For some people, their brain tumor has obvious, sudden symptoms or symptoms that were misdiagnosed as another condition and have progressed over years. As part of your treatment, you will need to have your symptoms managed. Some symptoms may only be alleviated after the tumor is removed. Seizures, headaches, pain, and nausea are common with some brain tumors, especially ones that are large or encroaching on critical areas of the brain. These symptoms are usually treated with medication. Some people might require steroids to reduce brain swelling, which can also cause seizures. Even with treatment or removal of the brain tumor, some people have residual problems, depending on the severity of their condition. Paralysis, memory problems, and impaired cognition can be long-term complications.

Eliminating The Tumor

The goal of your treatment plan will be eliminating the brain tumor, but this is not always possible. Tumors that are accessible are usually removed surgically. In some cases, all of the tumor may not be removed if there is a risk of damage to the brain or if there are complications during surgery. For benign brain tumors, radiation may be used instead of surgery to shrink the tumor. Malignant brain tumors usually require additional treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, since it is unlikely all of the tumor will be removed.

Although the diagnosis of a brain tumor is intimidating, many of these tumors are benign. With improved treatments for brain tumors, many people are diagnosed quicker and have better outcomes. To learn more, check out websites like