Brain tumours can grow in the tissue inside the skull or the spinal column of the central nervous system. Those that originate in the brain (primary brain tumours) can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Those that begin as cancer in the body and then spread to the brain are called metastatic brain tumours.
A tumour can destroy or disrupt healthy cell function. It can put pressure on sensitive tissue and block the flow of blood and other fluid, causing pain and inflammation. A tumour can also block normal nerve signalling to and from the brain. People may experience a range of symptoms including:
- Blurred vision
- Hearing loss
- Balance and co-ordination issues
- Loss of sense of smell
- Difficulties with concentration and memory
- nausea and vomiting
- speech impediments.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options
Brain tumours are often discovered when patients present to their GP with some or all of the above symptoms. GPs often order diagnostic tests, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Other times they are referred immediately to the emergency department of their local hospital or directly to a Neurosurgeon for an emergency consultation/admission to perform further tests.
Usually, benign tumours can be removed and seldom grow back or spread to other parts of the body. However, benign tumours can press on sensitive areas of the brain and cause serious health problems. They are sometimes life-threatening and can become malignant.
Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of treatments. People who can’t have surgery usually receive radiation therapy or other treatment.
Surgery techniques for brain tumours have improved significantly in recent decades due to advancing technology, such as the use of high-powered intra-operative microscopes, neuronavigation for detailed localisation of the tumour, advanced neuroendoscopic equipment for minimal invasive approaches and resections, as well as in some cases the use of fluorescence imaging.
The aim is to completely remove the brain tumour, however sometimes this is not possible due to the tumour location and its interference with healthy brain tissue. Other times a biopsy of the brain tumour is taken which can help to diagnose and guide further treatment or procedures.
Brain surgery varies in complexity depending on the type, size and location of the tumour.
Dr Tollesson works in conjunction with a team of specialists, such as Radiologists, Oncologists, Pathologists, Ophthalmologists, Speech Pathologists, Rehabilitation Consultants, Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists to give you the most appropriate treatment during your pre and post-operative recovery.
Risks or Complications
Although every surgery has risks, Dr Tollesson will provide all the information you need to make an informed choice about the best treatment option for your condition. Results are different for each patient and early diagnosis can contribute to a better chance of successful treatment.