Brain tumors

What is a brain tumor?
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells that begins in the brain. Not all brain tumors are cancer, as brain tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells and once removed, rarely grow back. However, benign brain tumors can also cause serious health problems and may become malignant. Malignant brain tumors are cancerous. They grow quickly and invade surrounding tissue and are usually life-threatening.

Types of brain tumors
Primary brain tumors are tumors that begin in the brain. Primary brain tumors are classified according to the area of the brain in which they start to grow or which types of cells they affect.
 
Secondary brain tumors are caused by cancer that starts in another part of the body, for example the lungs, but spreads to the brain. This is also known as metastatic brain cancer. Secondary brain tumors are treated differently than primary brain tumors depending on where the cancer first developed in the body.

What causes brain tumors?
It is not known what exactly causes brain tumors, but they have been found to be more prevalent among older adults over the age of 60 (although brain tumors are also the second most common cancer in children after leukemia), and more common in males than females (meningiomas are the only types of brain tumors that have been found to affect women more than men). Some other risk factors have been identified as increasing the risk of developing brain tumors:
• Exposure to radiation, for example from high-dose x-rays used in radiation therapy aimed at the head
• Some rare genetic conditions increase the risk of brain tumors, including neurofibromatosis, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Turcot's syndrome

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?
• Headaches (that are worse in the morning)
• Nausea
• Blurred vision or other changes in your vision
• Muscle spasms or seizures
• Changes in speech
• Difficulty swallowing
• Difficulty concentrating
• Memory problems
• Changes in mood or personality
• Fatigue or lethargy
 
How are brain tumors diagnosed?
Physicians at KHCC use a variety of diagnostic techniques and procedures to determine the presence of a benign or malignant brain tumor, and to evaluate its size, location and how fast-growing it is:
• Complete physical and neurological exam to test your vision, hearing, muscle reflexes, coordination and sensation in addition other neurological functions
• MRI scan to get a complete image of your brain and to determine whether there are any abnormal areas
• CT scan to get a complete image of your brain and to show whether there are any abnormal areas
• CSF test to get a sample of your celebro-spinal fluid and examine whether there are any abnormal cells
• Biopsy either through surgery or a needle biopsy to extract some tissue to be further examined in a lab
 
How are brain tumors treated at KHCC?
At KHCC, brain tumors are treated by a team of dedicated physicians involving neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, neurologists and other specialists. The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.
 
Depending on the type of brain tumor and how advanced it is treatment can involve surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
 
Given the extremely delicate location of brain tumors, the KHCC medical team uses the most state-of-the-art technologies and procedures to target brain tumors with maximum precision without exposing the patient to neurological damage. Surgeons at KHCC operate on brain tumors ultrasound-guided and image-guided neurosurgery navigation systems to provide detailed images of the brain during the operation. In addition, radiation oncologists treat brain tumors using stereotactic radiosurgery, a form of radiation therapy that can focus high-powered x-rays on very small areas without affecting nearby healthy tissue. This treatment is currently only available at KHCC.

Physicians
Brain tumor patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of neuro-oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating brain tumors and other tumors of the central nervous system.

Supportive Care
The neuro-oncology cancer multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that patients with brain tumors receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: