Brain Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
The diagnosis of brain cancer or brain tumors can be done by using special diagnostic tests. These include:
- CAT (Computed Axial Tomography) scan: This uses x-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your brain.
- MRT (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan: This uses magnetic fields and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of your brain.
Both the MRT and CAT (CT) scan will make the brain tumors (if exist) appear brighter than the surrounding brain structures on the scan. This may help doctor identify what kind of tumor the patient has.
Once the type of brain tumor has been detected, the doctor will determine the best treatment options for you.
Brain Cancer Treatment Options
There are three major treatments available for patients with brain cancer or tumors: Surgery, Radiation therapy, and Chemotherapy.
Surgery is the first treatment for most brain tumors. It is used to remove the tumors as much as possible. There are four types of brain tumors surgery based on the size, stages and the types of brain tumors:
- Biopsy: a type of surgery to remove a small part of tumor. This procedure is often taken for diagnostic purpose.
- Craniotomy: a type of surgery to open the skull in order to access the brain for tumor removal. After the tumor is removed, the piece of bone that was removed is replaced and the scalp is stitched up. Some of the possible complications following craniotomy include allergic to the anaesthetic, bleeding, brain damage, infection, brain swelling, stroke and seizures.
- Endonasal endoscopic: a type of brain tumors surgery that uses an endoscope, a small telescope-like device equipped with a high-resolution video camera and a bright light, to access tumors and lesions through the nose. It is usually used to treat Pituitary tumors, Skull base tumors, and Clival tumors, including clival chordomas and clival chondrosarcomas.
- Neuroendoscopy: a type of brain tumors surgery to remove the tumor through small holes in the skull or through the mouth or nose. It usually used to treat Pineal region tumors, Pituitary tumors, Rathke’s cleft cysts, Skull base tumors, and Ventricular tumors.
Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses drugs or medications to kill brain tumors or cancer cells. Chemotherapy is usually given by injection drugs into a vein or muscle intravenously. When the drugs get into the body, they will travel through the bloodstream and kill the tumors.
For some cases, chemotherapy may be given in wafers that are put in the brain. Over several weeks, the wafers dissolve, releasing the drugs into the brain. The drugs may kill cancer cells or prevent them from returning after surgery.
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is the treatment that uses high energy X-rays and other forms of radiation (light energy) to destroy brain cancer cells or prevent the tumor from growing.
Radiation therapy passes through the body, treating cancers in areas of the brain that are difficult to reach through traditional surgery. It is painless. There are two types of radiation therapy:
- External radiation therapy: This uses a large machine to aims the radiation at the head where the tumors or cancer cells are located. Treatments are usually take 5 days a week for several weeks.
- Internal radiation therapy or implant radiation therapy: This uses radioactive material that contained small implants called seeds and placed directly into or near a tumor to kill cancer cells. This therapy is rarely used for treating brain cancer and is under study.