The term "brain tumor" corresponds to an abnormal growth of cells found in the brain tissue itself, or located just outside the brain but still within the skull. Brain tumors are generally classified as either primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors originate from within the brain cavity, whereas secondary brain tumors originate elsewhere in the body, and then spread (metastasize) to the brain. Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors are cancerous by nature, whereas primary brain tumors can be either benign or malignant (cancerous).
Primary brain tumors are generally named based on the type of cells from which they originate. The nerve cells (neurons) of the brain rarely divide, and therefore generally do not produce tumors, whereas the support cells for neurons, glial cells, are responsible for most primary brain tumors. Tumors originating from glial cells are called gliomas, and include astrocytoma, glioblastoma, and oligodendroglioma. The covering of the brain, called the meninges, gives rise to meningiomas (the second most common primary brain tumor).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most sensitive and best method of detecting brain tumors.
- Computed tomography (CT) scans can also be used; however, the degree of detail that can be picked up by CT is much less than MRI.
- Sometimes, other advanced imaging techniques can further help doctors in the diagnosis of certain tumors.
- Once a mass is suspected by any of the imaging techniques available, the diagnosis needs to be confirmed by obtaining a biopsy of the mass.
- The biopsy will help differentiate tumor from other types of masses, such as infection. The microscopic structure of the tumor will be important in grading the tumor.
- Tumor grading
- Important for prognosis and therapy, the tumor grade is an estimate of how aggressive, or malignant, a tumor will behave. Tumors are graded based on the microscopic examination of the tumor specimen. The specimen is scanned to see if any part demonstrates malignant characteristics.
- Almost always necessary in order to obtain a piece of tumor tissue for grading, surgery also can be used to remove the mass effect and pressure caused by the tumor.
The ANS team provides comprehensive surgical management of patients with a variety of brain tumors. Adjuvant therapies may include chemotherapy, radio surgery and whole brain radiation. A team of top medical specialists meets monthly to develop an individual treatment plan for each patient. This team of experts is composed of neurosurgeons, neurologists, neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, medical oncologists and neuroradiologists.
The CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System is a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors anywhere in the body. ANS utilizes this technology to treat certain brain tumors, AVMS and other Neuro related conditions. The treatment – which delivers beams of high dose radiation to tumors with extreme accuracy – offers new hope to our patients.
Though its name may conjure images of scalpels and surgery, the CyberKnife treatment involves no cutting. In fact, the CyberKnife System is the world’s first and only robotic radiosurgery system designed to treat tumors throughout the body non-invasively. It provides a pain-free, non-surgical option for patients who have inoperable or surgically complex tumors, or who may be looking for an alternative to surgery.