Brain Tumors

Brain Tumors

Brain Tumors
When irregular cells form a mass in the brain tissue, the result is a brain tumor. Some brain tumors are benign, while others become cancerous (malignant). Brain tumor symptoms range from headaches and seizures to loss of balance, vision changes, confusion and memory loss. The tumor's size and location, as well as your age and health, play a large part in deciding a course of treatment. Learn more about diagnosing and treating brain tumors with expert advice from Sharecare.

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    Brain tumors cannot be avoided because it is unknown how they start. The chance of developing a brain tumor is less than 1 percent, so you probably won' t need to be concerned about it. Stay healthy, pay attention to the possible symptoms, and see your doctor if you are concerned.
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    Brain tumors are unpredictable, so there is not a way to protect your child from getting one. But brain tumors, in general, are uncommon so keep your child healthy and up to date with doctors' appointments. Watch them for any signs and symptoms that may be out of their normal behavior.

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    Since no one can be sure why brain tumors happen in the first place, there is no method of prevention. No risk factors have been absolutely linked to causing brain tumors. However, if you work around chemicals or extreme radiation, take the proper safety precautions.

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    Following treatment for a brain tumor, your life may be greatly changed. Depending on what area of the brain was involved, you may suffer from physical side effects, even paralysis, and may need physical therapy to regain your strength. You may lose the ability to perform even minor tasks and may need help remembering how to do everyday tasks. It may be helpful to have a caretaker to be sure you are safe and healthy. You may experience depression and anxiety about the future. If you are healthy enough to return to work, you may find you cannot handle the duties you previously performed and may need to look into a career change. Your lifestyle could be greatly affected.

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    Rehabilitation therapy for brain cancer includes:
    • Physical therapy to help with walking, balance, and building strength
    • Occupational therapy to help with mastering life skills, such as dressing, eating, and using the toilet
    • Speech therapy to help express thoughts and overcome swallowing difficulties
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    If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, you will likely have surgery to remove the tumor. Once the tumor is removed, if is not found to be cancerous, you may need radiation therapy to be sure all parts of the tumor are gone. You may have some side effects from this to manage. If a tumor is found to be malignant, you may have to undergo chemotherapy or radiation and/or surgery. Dealing with the side effects and after effects of any of these treatments may produce stress on a daily basis. You may need physical or rehabilitative therapy after surgery to relearn even simple tasks.

    Get plenty of rest.

    Talk to your family.

    If your tumor is inoperable, you may have to deal with a will and other legal matters while you can still make decisions.

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    If your child has a brain tumor, also called a neoplasm, he or she has an abnormal growth of cells with the brain. A team of doctors will decide whether surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy is the best option, or if a combination of these approaches will be more effective:
    Surgery - The purpose of surgery is to remove as much of your child's tumor as possible and relieve intracranial pressure caused by the tumor. For low-grade or slow-growing tumors, this is the only intervention necessary. At Johns Hopkins, the team uses advanced technology such as intraoperative MRI; a technology which allows your child's doctor to operate with more precision. The doctor will be able to analyze stray cancer cells and slivers of tumor that are hard to detect before your child leaves the operating table.

    Radiation therapy - Radiation therapy focuses beams of high energy light on the tumor tissue and a small amount of surrounding tissue, which can control the invasiveness of the tumor. Stereotactic radiation treatments, available for specific types of tumors, can eliminate the tumor without surgery. Stereotactic radiation is radiation which is directly at the exact spot where the tumor is located.

    Chemotherapy - Is used for aggressive tumors or low grade tumors if not completely removed.
    Follow-up care is extremely important in tracking the progress of your child's recovery. After the treatment, you will need to bring your child for testing and examinations so that the doctor can track his or her status.
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    A Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, answered on behalf of
    What Happens After My Child Is Diagnosed with a Brain Tumor?
    After the diagnosis and initial assessment, a child with a brain tumor is typically taken to the operating room. Watch this video to hear more about the procedure from Jaime Estrada, MD of Methodist Children's Hospital.
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    A Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, answered on behalf of
    How Will the Tumor Pathology Results Guide My Child's Treatment?
    Tumor pathology results will determine what treatment is needed for the tumor. In this video, Jaime Estrada, MD of Methodist Children's Hospital explains what happens once the results are in. 
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    If your child experiences the following symptoms, a thorough evaluation by a pediatrician or neurologist is needed to diagnose the root of the problem:

    • Headaches
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Irritability
    • Lethargy and drowsiness
    • Personality and mental activity changes
    • Depression
    • Coma and death, if left untreated
    • Macrocephaly (big heads) in infants whose skull bones are not completely fused

    This evaluation usually includes imaging of the brain through magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. If the MRI shows a brain tumor, you will visit a neurosurgeon in order to develop the best treatment plan. Depending on the location of the tumor, additional specialists may be consulted in developing the treatment plan. If your child's tumor is located along the vision pathways, for example, an ophthalmologist may join the team.

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