Brain Cancer (cont.)
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Brain cancer facts
- What is brain cancer?
- What is metastatic brain cancer?
- What causes brain cancer?
- Do cell phones cause brain cancer?
- What are the symptoms and signs of brain cancer?
- What tests are used to diagnose brain cancer?
- What is the treatment for brain cancer?
- What are the side effects of brain cancer treatment?
- What is the prognosis (outcome) of treated brain cancer?
- What can I do to help my family (and me) cope with my diagnosis of brain cancer?
- How is brain cancer prevented?
- Where can I get more information about my type of brain cancer?
- Find a local Oncologist in your town
What are the symptoms and signs of brain cancer?
Although there are few early signs, the most common symptoms of brain cancer are weakness, difficulty walking, seizures, and headaches. Other common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, or a change in a person's alertness, mental capacity, memory, speech, or personality. These symptoms can also occur in people who do not have brain cancer, and none of these symptoms alone or in combination can predict that a person has brain cancer. Cancer can occur in any part of the brain (for example, occipital, frontal, parietal, or temporal lobes, brainstem, or meningeal membranes). A few brain cancers may produce few or no symptoms (for example, some meningeal and pituitary gland tumors).
What tests are used to diagnose brain cancer?
The initial test is an interview that includes a medical history and physical examination of the person by a health-care provider. The results of this interaction will determine if other specific tests need to be done.
The most frequently used test to detect brain cancer is a CT scan (computerized tomography). This test resembles a series of X-rays and is not painful, although sometimes a dye needs to be injected into a vein for better images of some internal brain structures. Another test that is gaining popularity because of its high sensitivity for detecting anatomic changes in the brain is MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). This test also resembles a series of X-rays and shows the brain structures in detail better than CT. MRI is not as widely available as CT scanning. If the tests show evidence (tumors or abnormalities in the brain tissue) of brain cancer, then other doctors such as neurosurgeons and neurologists that specialize in treating brain ailments will be consulted to help determine what should be done to treat the patient. Occasionally, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be obtained by surgery or insertion of a needle to help determine the diagnosis. Other tests (white blood cell counts, electrolytes, or examination of cerebrospinal fluid to detect abnormal cells or increased intracranial pressure) may be ordered by the health-care practitioner to help determine the patient's state of health or to detect other health problems.
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