Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells located in the brain, or arising from the coverings of the brain. Tumors are generally separated into two categories: 1) primary brain tumors (those arriving within the head itself) or 2) metastatic tumors (tumors that spread from different areas of the body).
Symptoms of brain tumors depend on the location of the lesion but can include headaches, seizures, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, speech problems, or problems related to cranial nerves (including facial movement, hearing, vision, or swallowing). Symptoms are usually slow and progressive in nature.
The diagnosis of a brain tumor is usually made using MR (magnetic resonance) imaging with and without contrast (image above shows a large ring enhancing tumor).
Decisions for treatment of brain tumors are made on an individual basis. For most tumors, the best treatment involves surgical resection of as much tumor as possible. For some tumors, radiation or chemotherapy are used as primary treatments.
Following brain tumor treatment, most patients will need serial follow-up, including exams and MR brain imaging to evaluate for recurrence or other long-term effects of the tumor or treatment.
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