Brain Tumors

Benign brain tumors usually have clearly defined borders and are not deeply rooted in brain tissue, making them easier to surgically remove.

Not all tumors are cancerous.

Cancer or Not Cancer?

A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain or close to your brain. Though this may sound like brain cancer, it's important to understand that not all brain tumors are cancerous. Noncancerous brain tumors are referred to as "benign brain tumors." Although they are not aggressive and normally do not spread to surrounding tissues, they can be serious & even life threatening.

Malignant primary brain tumors are cancerous. They originate in the brain, grow faster than benign tumors and aggressively invade surrounding tissue. Although brain cancer rarely spreads to other organs, it can spread to other parts of the brain and central nervous system.

Important Differences

Benign brain tumors usually have clearly defined borders and are not deeply rooted in brain tissue, making them easier to surgically remove as long as they are in an area of the brain that can be safely operated on.

Whether you or a loved one are struggling with a brain tumor, INTEGRIS physicians, neuroscientists and experts will work with you and do all they can to get to the bottom of the problem, alleviate the symptoms and remove the tumor if possible.

Understanding Brain Tumors

Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body symptoms of brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Some tumors have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health.

Keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don't assume you have a brain tumor just because you experience some of them. Check with your doctor. A common initial symptom of a brain tumor is headaches that often don't respond to usual headache remedies. Other symptoms include:

  • Seizures
  • Changes in speech or hearing
  • Changes in vision
  • Balance problems
  • Problems with walking
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Problems with memory
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Weakness in one part of the body

If your doctor thinks you might have a brain tumor, exams and tests will be required to reach an accurate diagnosis. This begins with your physician asking questions about your health history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of disease, and may continue with more in-depth tests:

  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan: A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses X-rays and computer technology to make horizontal, or axial, images (often called slices) of the body or head. CT scans show more detail than standard X-rays.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): This procedure uses large magnets, radiofrequencies and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within your body.
  • Angiogram or MRA: Involves the use of dye and X-rays of blood vessels in the brain to look for signs of a tumor or abnormal blood vessels.
  • Biopsy: Your doctor removes a sample of cells from the tumor and sends it to a lab to be tested for cancer.

Specific treatment for brain tumors will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration.

  • Surgery: Surgically removing the tumor is typically the first option once a brain tumor has been diagnosed. However, some tumors can't be surgically removed because of their location in the brain. For those cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be options for killing and shrinking the tumor.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy’s main method of function is to interfere with cells’ ability to develop and multiply. You may be prescribed a combination of a few types of chemotherapy, and it may also be prescribed in tandem with additional treatments, like radiation or surgery.
  • Radiation Therapy: The goal of radiation therapy is to kill cancer cells. When it's used after surgery, it is called adjuvant radiation therapy.
  • Gamma Knife Therapy: A form of highly focused radiation therapy used to reach tumors that are deep in the brain or difficult to reach.

Brain tumors have the power to be devastating both for the person suffering from them and their family. Treatments can also severely tax a person. But INTEGRIS will be by your side, with access to rehabilitation and support.

  • Rehabilitation: Regaining control of your life is important, so we can connect you with a number of different therapies, such as physical therapy to regain strength and balance; speech therapy to address problems with speaking, expressing thoughts, or swallowing; and occupational therapy to help manage daily activities such as using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing
  • Oklahoma Brain Tumor Foundation: OKBTF is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of Oklahoma families, caregivers and patients affected by primary brain or central nervous system tumors. Here you'll find education, advocacy and support for you and your family. To learn more, visit www.okbtf.org.