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Brain tumor diagnosis may be an involved process, given the complexity of brain cancer. Several brain tumor imaging or other tests may be necessary to get an accurate diagnosis. At Henry Ford, we have a team of specialized Neuro-pathologists, doctors specifically trained to interpret brain tumors. While brain tumor diagnosis and testing varies by individual, some common initial tests include:
If you are seeking a second opinion at the Hermelin Brain Tumor Center, we will review these initial test results and may order additional specialized tests, including a tumor biopsy (tissue sample).
A correct diagnosis is essential for determining the most appropriate brain tumor treatment. In addition to reviewing any initial brain tumor imaging studies or other tests, we may order one or more of the following specialized tests:
Following your brain tumor diagnosis, our multidisciplinary tumor board will review your case. This group of experts from multiple medical specialties meets to analyze the results from any brain tumor imaging or other tests, and develop a personalized treatment plan based on the genetic make-up of your tumor that meets the needs of you and your family. This treatment plan may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, specialized metastatic treatment or clinical trials.
A brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain, which can place pressure on tissues and impair function. When a mass starts to grow, it is confined to the space within the skull, therefore pushing on vital functions like speech, motor or sensory areas. This mass can also cause the brain’s electrical impulses to misfire, thus causing a seizure. A brain tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
A benign brain tumor is slow growing, while a malignant brain tumor is fast growing. The pathologist grades these tumor cells by how many cells within a field are duplicating and other special features.
Meningiomas are considered in general to be benign brain tumors, but there are also more aggressive forms of meningiomas called atypical or anaplastic meningioma. In addition, some benign brain tumors can turn to more aggressive brain tumors over time. Therefore, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions during your follow-up care.
All glioma tumors are considered cancerous. However, these are graded by the World Health Organization into four subclassifications ranging from WHO Grade I to WHO Grade IV and also known as a glioblastoma (GBM). WHO Grade IV is the most common and aggressive brain tumor, which most likely will be treated by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
There are more than 120 types of brain tumors that are classified as malignant cancerous growths.
A primary brain tumor comes from normal brain cells that grow out of control. Scientists do not know what causes most primary brain tumors. Viruses, defective genes and certain chemicals are all being explored and researched as possible causes, but until the causes have been identified, there is no known way to prevent a brain tumor from developing. Pathologists divide primary tumors into two groups:
Also known as a secondary tumor, a metastatic brain tumor begins in another part of the body as a primary tumor and spreads through the lymphatic system and bloodstream into the brain. These tumors will be named after the tissue in which their growth began, such as a lung tumor or a kidney tumor. In breast cancer, these metastatic brain tumors can appear small but numerous.