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Brain tumors are broadly classified into benign and malignant. Benign tumors usually grow slowly, while malignant tumors (brain cancer) have a more aggressive course. Brain tumors affect persons of all ages and may occur in both men and women. Most cases of brain tumors arise spontaneously, and only a very small percentage is inherited or runs in families.

There are many different types of brain tumors, and depending on their location within the brain, the symptoms they cause are extremely variable. Some of the more common symptoms include headache, vomiting, drowsiness, seizures, weakness, numbness, blurring of vision, double vision, and other neurological deficits.

The diagnosis of brain tumors is suspected when the patient reports the above symptoms, and the doctor may find signs on his physical and neurological examination that may point towards it. The diagnosis is confirmed by imaging studies such as a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain.

How are brain tumors managed? Again, it depends on the type of tumor, its size, and its location within the brain, among other factors. Some of the treatment options are:

(1) observation and follow-up – This can be done for small benign tumors that do not cause any symptoms.

(2) surgery – This is recommended if the tumor is exerting pressure on the brain and is causing symptoms. Surgery may also be indicated if we do not know what kind of brain tumor it is, so we need to take out a sample for biopsy purposes. We need to know what kind of tumor it is before we can treat it.

(3) radiation therapy – This is usually given for malignant tumors or benign tumors that cannot be treated with surgery. The neurosurgeon works in conjunction with a radiation oncologist when this treatment is instituted.

(4) chemotherapy – This is given for malignant tumors only. Again, the neurosurgeon works jointly with a medical neuro-oncologist to administer the chemotherapy.

After treatment, neurosurgeons usually check for regrowth of brain tumors using CT or MRI scans. Some brain tumors recur so it is important to catch them early and treat them immediately before they grow large.

Here are some of the more common brain tumors seen in adult patients:

Vestibular schwannoma
Pituitary adenoma
Glioma/ GBM
Brain metastases


 Disclaimer: The information provided here is  for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute 
for expert medical opinion on a specific patient's medical condition.
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