Posted 5 years ago
An Introduction to Brain Cancer with Dr. Aaron Ambrad
As a radiation oncologist, brain cancer is something I’m trained to treat. For most, brain tumors are treated with some combination of surgery and radiation and in some cases, chemotherapy is also utilized.
The human brain is the most complex organ we have. The brain has around 100 billion special cells called neurons and trillions of glial cells that help neurons function. Sometimes those cells can become cancerous whereas other times tumors from different parts of the body can metastasize to the brain. Brain tumors that originate from other areas of the body, like lung cancer, are four times more common than ones that originate in the brain.
When cells within the brain abnormally divide, a brain tumor forms. If they are cancerous, we call this a malignancy but they can also be benign. The most common type of primary malignant brain tumor is called a glioblastoma multiforme. Some common benign tumors include neuromas and meningiomas. Depending on the type of brain cells involved, location, and a host of other factors, the brain tumor begins to interfere with brain function in a variety of ways. In some instances, the symptoms of brain cancer can be vague and easy to confuse with common ailments. On the other hand, they can also present with abrupt and significant symptoms like those of a stroke.
Common Symptoms of Brain Cancer
Changes in Neurological Function
Changes in Personality (sometimes only the family & friends notice)
Nausea or Vomiting (often in the morning)
Brain tumors are most commonly discovered after a patient presents with symptoms and either a CT scan or MRI is performed. Once a biopsy is obtained, the type of tumor can be delineated and this guides treatment. Depending on the type of brain cancer, it can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation and often a combination of these modalities.
At Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers, we use state of the art technology to target tumors to deliver radiation precisely where it’s needed.