Brain tumors are divided into many classifications. Primary brain tumors refer to tumors that originate in the brain, and metastatic tumors are tumors that originate elsewhere in the body and travel through the bloodstream to the brain. Primary brain tumors may be either benign or malignant. Metastatic tumors are malignant.
Most tumors are biopsied prior to treatment. In cases where the tumor is adjacent to vital structures, a decision may be made prior to surgery to perform only a biopsy rather than attempting to remove the entire tumor.
Some brain tumors do not produce symptoms. Other times, symptoms may include headaches (especially at night), seizures or neurological difficulties related to speech, vision, numbness, weakness, balance or walking.
The total treatment of brain tumors is a team effort. This involves the neurosurgeon, the medical oncologist, the radiation oncologist, their staffs and the patient and family. New treatments are being developed rapidly and the prognosis for patients with brain tumors is brighter than it ever was in the past.
For additional information about brain tumors and their treatment, visit the American Brain Tumor Association atwww.abta.org, the National Brain Tumor Foundation at www.braintumor.org or the Acoustic Neuroma Association at www.anausa.org.