The National Cancer Institute states that a tumor is “an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should.”
Normal cells have a life cycle — they’re created, grow, divide, die, and are replaced by new cells that form, but only in response to an organ or system’s need. Some cells, though, continually grow and divide, collecting into a mass called a tumor. Some can also spread from one part of the body to another (metastasize), forming new masses wherever they go and disrupting the function of normal cells.
At Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, Dr. Scott Glickman, a board-certified, multi-fellowship-trained neurosurgeon, has extensive experience with brain tumors, those that begin in the brain and those that metastasize there. As many people with brain tumors are understandably devastated by the news, he and his team want to discuss what follows such a diagnosis so you’ll know what options you have.
There are three general types of tumors:
Benign tumors are non-cancerous tumors. They’re a collection of cells that usually can’t grow or can only grow very slowly. For those that grow large over time, they aren’t able to metastasize into nearby tissues or other parts of the body. And if you remove the mass, it generally doesn’t grow back.
Premalignant tumors also are non-cancerous tumors, but the cells, if triggered, have the potential to become cancerous. Your doctor may take a wait-and-see approach, or he may remove it just to be safe.
Malignant tumors are cancerous tumors, and their cells are able to grow and invade surrounding tissues, interfering with their function. They can also spread to other areas of the body through the bloodstream and the lymphatic system. Treatment (e.g., chemotherapy, radiation, surgery) may be directed at removing the mass or at least shrinking it.
Tumors are also classified by where they begin. In the case of brain tumors, a primary tumor is one that forms from the cells in the brain. A secondary tumor is a metastatic tumor, one that starts elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the brain.
About one-third of primary brain tumors are meningiomas, those that grow from the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord. They produce pressure on the brain area where they develop, causing symptoms specific to the area it controls. They’re most often found in women over 60, they’re usually slow growing, and they’re usually benign.
Meningioma symptoms include:
Glioblastomas are another type of primary brain tumor, but these are malignant; they’re the most aggressive form of gliomas, tumors of the nerve-supporting glial cells.
Glioblastomas create pressure on the brain area in which they grow, with symptoms that include:
Metastatic brain tumors display the same symptoms that primary tumors do, as well as symptoms in the area in which they originated.
When you come into Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for an evaluation, Dr. Glickman takes a detailed medical history, notes the type and severity of your symptoms, and performs a physical and neurological exam. He may also order imaging tests to better visualize the tumor. From this information, he develops an individualized treatment plan.
If the tumor is in a brain region that’s accessible, Dr. Glickman may recommend surgery. To ensure the best possible results, he uses advanced technologies and techniques like computer-assisted navigation and minimally invasive procedures.
He may also recommend stereotactic radiosurgery, which uses highly focused beams of a combination of radiation, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy.
If your brain tumor is metastatic and not operable, the doctor coordinates care with your oncologist to achieve the best possible outcome.
If you have a brain tumor or are displaying symptoms characteristic of one, it’s time to come into Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas for an evaluation and targeted treatment. Give our office a call at 702-929-8242, text us at 725-210-0057, or book your appointment online. The earlier you can get treatment, the better your prognosis will be.