Diagnosis of a brain tumor is the first crucial step on the way to recovery. Only the most skilled doctors should diagnose brain tumors, because the more precise the diagnosis, the more targeted the treatment is. The doctors at St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center have years of experience in diagnosing brain tumors.
Brain Tumor Symptoms
If you experience any of the following symptoms, speak with your doctor. Often, brain tumor symptoms can feel like symptoms of other, more common illnesses.
- headaches, especially if they are worse in the morning
- nausea and/or vomiting
- difficulty speaking, hearing or seeing
- difficulty with coordination; for example, keeping your balance or walking
- numbness or tingling in your arms or legs
- difficulty remembering or concentrating on a task
- unusual mood or personality changes
Brain Tumor Diagnostic Tests
At St. Anthony’s, we know that sometimes the hardest part of the diagnosis phase is waiting for an answer. We strive to complete all of your testing as quickly as possible, so if the diagnosis is cancer, you can begin treatment immediately.
Here’s what you can expect during diagnosis:
- History and physical examination: Your doctor takes a detailed medical history and performs a thorough physical examination.
- Imaging tests: Using different imaging technologies, your doctor looks inside your brain to see where exactly the tumor is located. Imaging tests include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan. This uses X-ray technology to create detailed images of your brain.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An MRI uses powerful magnets to create a detailed picture of your brain.
- Biopsy: During a biopsy, your doctor removes a piece of the suspicious mass and sends it to a pathology lab for analysis. A biopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis.
- Stereotactic biopsy: Your doctor drills into your skull. A CT scan guides a needle to the exact location of the mass and your doctor removes a small piece.
- Open-brain biopsy: This is a more invasive procedure, in which your doctor removes a piece of your skull to expose the part of your brain with the tumor, takes out as much as possible, and then replaces the piece of skull.
A brain biopsy is performed by a specialist called a neurosurgeon, who has expertise in disorders of the brain and nervous system. Your neurosurgeon will determine whether you are a candidate for a stereotactic biopsy or if an open approach is more effective. Remember, the goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for you, and that will be the number one consideration.