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More on Brain Tumors, Metastatic

Brain Tumors, Metastatic

A tumor, or neoplasm, is a mass of abnormal cells that grows at an uncontrolled pace, crowding out and destroying normal tissue. Primary brain tumors arise in various regions of the central nervous system (CNS). Metastatic brain tumors are malignant growths that are formed by cancer cells originating in a different region or organ in the body. Cancers of the lung, breast, skin, and kidneys are the most common cause of metastatic brain tumors.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

As brain tumors grow, depending on their location, they can disrupt sensory, motor, and cognitive function and increase pressure within the brain or other areas of the CNS.

  • CNS lymphoma can cause headaches, seizures, neurologic problems, or changes in mood.
  • People with an acoustic neuroma may experience hearing difficulty in one ear, as well as noise or ringing in the ear (tinnitus), dizziness, and loss of balance.
  • Additional symptoms associated with the tumor's growth may include headache, facial numbness, double vision, and difficulty with speech, swallowing, and even breathing. Brain tumors are typically diagnosed using imaging techniques such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Treatment

Depending on their location and size, malignant brain tumors may be treated with one or a combination of techniques. Traditional surgery is preferred when the tumor can be completely removed without causing neurological damage. Radiosurgery uses a single, high dose of radiation to kill remaining tumor cells, whereas radiation therapy delivers a smaller dose of radiation to the tumor site or entire brain over a period of several weeks. Chemotherapy and immunotherapy use medications to kill cancer cells and enlist the body's immune system in fighting the disease.

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