Brain Tumor

Parts of the brain: cerebellum, ventricle, meninges, cerabrum, pituitary, and brainstem

Your body is constantly growing new cells to replace older ones. A tumor occurs when cells begin to grow abnormally. Tumors can be cancer (malignant) or not cancer (benign). A benign tumor will stay where it is and grow slowly. A cancerous tumor will spread to nearby tissues. It will then pass through the blood and lymph to other parts of the body (metastasis).

A primary brain tumor is one that first appears in the brain. This may be benign or malignant. A metastatic brain tumor results from a cancer elsewhere in the body that has spread to the brain. Either type of brain tumor can damage brain cells directly. Or the tumor can harm brain cells when it presses on brain tissue as it grows.

Doctors don’t know what causes primary brain tumors. Exposure to certain kinds of electromagnetic radiation, head injuries, and hormone therapy may raise the risk for this kind of tumor.

The most common brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas. Most gliomas are cancer. Most meningiomas are benign. But meningiomas still may cause severe complications, depending on how big they are and where they are in the brain.

The first tests used to diagnose the type of brain tumor include a CT scan and an MRI scan of the brain. Sometimes a sample of tumor tissue (biopsy) is needed. The sample is taken by surgery.

Brain tumors should be treated right away. Surgery is needed to treat most primary brain tumors. Some tumors respond to radiation therapy. Your doctor may recommend radiation therapy in addition to, or instead of, surgery. You may also need chemotherapy.

A brain tumor may cause a seizure. If this happens, your doctor can give you medicine to prevent another seizure.

Home care

Follow these tips to take care of yourself at home:

You can go back to your normal activities as you feel up to it. But if you had a seizure or fainted, you should not drive, take baths alone, or swim until your health care provider says it’s OK for you to do so. Take any seizure medicine as directed to prevent another episode.

If you have headache or nausea, use the medicines provided.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your health care provider.

When to seek medical advice

Call your health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • New seizures or seizures that keep happening

  • Repeated vomiting

  • You feel less alert or it’s difficult to wake you up

  • New changes to your vision, speech, or hearing

  • Weakness on one side of your body or loss of coordination and balance

  • Severe headache

  • Confusion

  • Difficulty thinking, speaking, or getting your words out