At OC CyberKnife, we’re more than just another cancer clinic: we are a state-of-the-art radiation oncology & cancer treatment dedicated to the health and long-term well being of our patients. With a world-class treatment team of cancer doctors, radiation oncologists, and cancer care specialists along with a suite of cutting-edge cancer treatments, we strive to create comprehensive cancer treatment plans that focus on beating cancer with as little impact as possible on day-to-day life. While we pride ourselves on our advanced treatments and care, we believe patient education is vital to successful treatment. That’s why we’ve composed a FAQ page with common questions about brain cancer along with their answers.
Even if you’re diagnosed with a mild, benign brain tumor, we understand just how scary this diagnosis can be – and we’re here to help. As a leading radiation oncology center serving the Orange County area, we’ve used noninvasive treatments like CyberKnife to help countless patients beat even the most severe forms of cancer – and we’d be thrilled to work with you to accomplish the same. Call us today at 714.962.7100 to find out more about how we can help you beat cancer and reclaim whole-body health. Working together, we can help you overcome cancer and get back to living your life.
Unfortunately, cancer doctors and researchers still don’t fully understand the exact causes of primary brain tumors, or tumors that form in the brain instead of coming from another tumor somewhere else in the body. That said, medical research has demonstrated that certain risk factors – things like age, exposure to certain chemicals, family history, and certain diseases like neurofibromatosis – can increase the likelihood for developing brain cancer.
The symptoms of brain cancer vary greatly depending on the location and size of the tumor, so while some patients experience seizures, others don’t. Chances are that if you’ve never had a seizure before, you probably won’t have one in the future.
Even among patients with seizures, symptoms can vary. There are several types of seizures that can arise based on where the tumor is in the brain. Some of the most common types of seizures that don’t involve loss of consciousness include:
These are a few examples of seizures that don’t involve losing consciousness and don’t fit most people’s conception of a seizure. In fact, only one type of seizure – a generalized tonicclonic seizure – involves full body shaking along with loss of consciousness.
If you do experience a seizure, your doctor will prescribe an antiseizure (antiepileptic) medication. You and your physician will work together to choose the right medication and dosage to best fit your needs and lifestyle.
While both of these scans are medical imaging scans that provide us pictures of the brain or other parts of the body, they use different mechanisms for imaging and are used in different circumstances. CT (computed tomography) scans use x-rays and computer software to take a series of detailed pictures of the head and the brain, revealing any tumors or abnormal growths in the brain. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans use a combination of magnetism, radio waves, and computer software to produce detailed pictures of the brain. With both scans, we’ll usually inject the patient with a special dye that makes it easier to see abnormal tissue like brain tumors.
In most cases, CT scans are more common than MRIs because they’re more widely available, less expensive, and also don’t present any issues for patients with implants like cardiac monitors or any other metal in the body. While CT scans are more common and come with unique advantages, MRIs also offer their own unique benefits:
Primary brain tumors are tumors that originate in the brain: they form directly from brain tissue, and do not come from cancerous tissue somewhere else in the body. Secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors form from cancer cells that travel to the brain from another part of the body. With secondary brain tumors, the cancer originates in another part of the body and metastasizes (spreads) to the brain. The types of cancer that most frequently spread to the brain include:
Secondary brain cancer is much more common than primary brain tumors, accounting for only about 40,000 of the 190,000+ Americans diagnosed with brain tumors each year.
Brain tumors are not always cancerous. While malignant (high grade) brain tumors contain some or all cancerous cells, benign (low grade) brain tumors often do not. In rare cases, a benign tumor can contain cancerous cells and develop into cancer.
The most common forms of cancerous brain tumors are metastatic tumors, which spread from cancer somewhere else in the body, and glioblastoma multiforme, or GMB, an aggressive form of primary brain tumor arising from glial cells in the brain.
Benign tumors are not inherently, actively harmful in the same way that malignant (cancerous) brain tumors are, but they can still present serious, life-threatening consequences. Because the brain is the control center for the entirety of the body, any abnormal growth or unhealthy tissue in the brain is dangerous. There’s a limited amount of space in the cranial cavity, which means any abnormal growth will put pressure on the brain, causing a variety of symptoms ranging from mild to incredibly severe. That said, benign tumors usually grow slowly and rarely return after surgical removal.