Brain Tumors

According to the National Brain Tumor Society, who is committed to improving the lives of all those affected by brain tumors, more than 69,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year. 

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function.  Doctors refer to a tumor based on where the tumor cells originated, and whether they are cancerous (malignant) or not (benign).  

The least aggressive type of brain tumor is often called a benign brain tumor.  Benign brain tumors originate from cells within or surrounding the brain, do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly, and typically have clear borders that do not spread into other tissue.  Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and often do not have clear borders.  They are considered to be life threatening because they grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain tissue.  Tumors that start in cells of the brain are called primary brain tumors.  Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but rarely to other organs.  Metastatic or secondary brain tumors begin in another part of the body and then spread to the brain.  Metastatic tumors are more common than primary brain tumors and are named by the location in which they begin. 

Brain tumor symptoms can vary according to tumor type and location.  Symptoms can include: 

– Recurrent headaches

– Issues with vision and/or hearing

– Seizures

– Changes in personality

– Short-term memory loss

– Poor coordination

– Facial paralysis

– Difficulty speaking or comprehending 

There are about 120 different types of brain tumors.  They are generally named after the type of cell they developed from.  Anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma multiforme are the most common types of brain tumors in adults.  These tumors are malignant and can sometimes spread to other parts of the brain.  

At the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), we treat brain tumors with the TrueBeam™ STx robotic stereotactic radiosurgery system.  TrueBeam painlessly delivers precise beams of high-dose radiation to brain tumors and lesions, without incisions, hospitalization, or long recovery time.  It is a nonsurgical alternative to brain cancer surgery and can be used for brain tumors that are considered inoperable because of their location in the head, for those patients who cannot undergo brain cancer surgery due to their poor medical condition, or who refuse surgery.  The TrueBeam can also treat benign, or non-cancerous, tumors and other conditions, such as trigeminal neuralgia and arterial venous malformations (AVMs).

For more information about brain tumors, or any of the conditions treated at Radiation Oncology Services at CAMC, please click here