Diagnosis is different for every brain tumor patient. In many cases, the onset of symptoms such as seizures, unexpected loss of function of a limb(s), problems with speech or changes in vision appear suddenly and diagnosis can be made quickly. In other cases, the symptoms appear gradually and may be initially passed off as minor ailments. Symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and personality changes are often common to many other conditions, including stress, and make diagnosis more difficult. Once a brain tumor is suspected, further testing is typically ordered. A brain tumor can be diagnosed through various imagining techniques including CT (or CAT) and MRI scans. A computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan uses X-rays to take images of the brain, while a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan uses magnet and radio waves. A CT scan is typically performed first to identify any abnormalities and if one is detected, an MRI scan will provide further detail.
Diagnosing a brain tumor
Brain tumor treatment
Current standard treatments of brain tumors include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Depending on the type of tumor and symptoms experienced by the patient, an observational approach is sometimes applied using a series of MRI and CT scans to monitor the tumor for any changes. Treatment plans are individualized to the patient and the type and grade of the brain tumor. Brian tumors in children are different from those in adults and are often treated differently. Although as many as 60% of children with brain tumors will survive, they are often left with long-term side effects.
Various side effects are associated with radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. Swelling, headaches and skin irritation are also commonly associated with radiation therapy. Additionally, chemotherapy may cause hearing loss, peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling or weakness of the hands and feet) and myelosuppression (low blood count), increasing one’s risk of infection.
Alternative treatments for brain cancer, such as viral therapy, immunotherapy and ultrasound therapy, may be under trial or available, depending on where you live. Advancements in technology and scientific research allow for improved imaging techniques, as well as improvements in traditional forms of brain tumor treatment. Additional therapies involving diet, essential oils and even infrared therapy can also have a positive impact on cancer treatment.
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