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Understanding adult brain and spinal cord tumor

  • Posted on- Aug 24, 2015
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Brain and spinal cord tumor is a collection of abnormal brain cells that have grown out of control. Though brain tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body, most of them can spread through the brain tissue. As benign tumors grow, they press on and destroy normal brain tissue, resulting in damage. The main concern with brain tumor is its nature. They can quickly spread through the rest of the brain and doctors are clueless whether they can be removed and not come back.

Brain and spinal cord tumor is different in adults and children. It often forms in different areas, develops from different cell types, and may have a different prognosis and treatment.

Signs and symptoms of adult brain and spinal cord tumor

Symptoms of brain or spinal cord tumor may occur slowly and get worse over time or they can ensue suddenly. Tumor in any part of the brain may lead to a rise in the pressure inside the skull. This happens because of tumor growth, swelling in the brain, or blockage of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Increased skull pressure can lead to:

Worsening headache is a common sign of brain tumor, occurring in about half of patients. Most patients with brain tumors will have seizures at some point depending upon the location of the tumor.

Tests and diagnosis for adult brain and spinal cord tumor

  • Physical examination and medical history: If symptoms suggest you have a brain or spinal cord tumor, your doctor will get a complete medical history focusing on the origination of the symptoms. The doctor will also check for brain and spinal cord function. It includes testing muscle strength, reflexes, eye and mouth movement, vision, alertness, and other functions. If results are positive, your doctor may refer you to a neurologist or a neurosurgeon.
  • Imaging tests: In imaging tests, x-rays, strong magnets, or radioactive substances are used to create pictures of the brain and spinal cord. These pictures may be analyzed by your primary doctor and specialized doctors.
  • Blood and urine tests: Blood and urine tests are not a common part of brain and spinal cord tumor diagnosis but these are done to examine the functionality of the liver, kidneys, and some other organs. This is important before starting any cancer treatment.

Treatment for adult brain and spinal cord tumor

Brain and spinal cord tumors can be difficult to treat and may require care from a team of different types of doctors including neurologist, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist and endocrinologist. Various treatment options for brain and spinal cord tumors include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and other types of drugs.

Treatment depends upon the type of tumor and other factors and often treatments are given in a combination. It’s vital to discuss all of your treatment options as well as their possible side effects with your doctor.