Receiving a brain tumor diagnosis is arguably one of the most difficult things any patient has to face. But not all brain tumors come with the same challenges or prognoses — learning you have a benign tumor on your pituitary gland isn’t nearly as devastating as finding out you have a glioblastoma tumor, an aggressive type of cancer that’s hard to treat. From his practice Advanced Brain & Spine, with locations in Centennial and Wheat Ridge, Colorado, Dr. Itay Melamed provides comprehensive care, including surveillance and advanced surgical treatment options, for Denver-area patients with brain tumors. Call or book your appointment online today.
Simply put, a brain tumor is any mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain or central spine. Some tumors interfere with normal brain function, while others exist for a long time before they cause symptoms or are discovered.
There are more than 120 different types of tumors that affect the brain and spine, and each gets its name from the area of the brain where its cells originated; in addition, some tumors are benign, or noncancerous, while others are malignant, or cancerous.
Primary brain tumors are ones that begin in brain cells. While these types of tumors can spread to other areas of the brain or the spine, they don’t usually spread to other organs. Metastatic, or secondary, brain tumors are tumors that began elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain.
Glioblastomas are tumors that begin from astrocyte cells, the star-shaped cells that make up the glue-like tissues in the brain that support nerve cells. These tumors are highly cancerous, in that their cells reproduce quickly and have the support of an extensive network of blood vessels.
Glioblastoma tumors can appear at any age, but they’re more common in older adults. Although these tumors can be difficult to treat and often impossible to cure, treatment can slow their progression and help alleviate symptoms.
Brain tumor symptoms can vary greatly, depending on the type of tumor you have as well as its location and size.
A tumor in the occipital lobe of your brain may cause you to have vision problems, for example, because that area of your brain controls vision. A tumor in the frontal lobe, which is the area that controls movement, behavior, and personality, may cause personality changes or poor coordination.
Other common brain tumor symptoms include:
Some brain tumors are asymptomatic, meaning they don’t cause any symptoms.
Brain tumor treatment is highly individualized, guided by the type of tumor you have, its size and location, your overall health, and your treatment preferences.
If your brain tumor is easily accessible, Dr. Melamed can remove it surgically. Whenever possible, he operates on brain tumors using minimally invasive endoscopic techniques. This type of brain surgery is performed with a smaller incision because it’s done with an endoscope, a small, highly advanced device that allows Dr. Melamed to easily navigate the treatment area.
Tumors that can’t be surgically removed, or can only be partially removed, may be treated with radiosurgery, radiation, chemotherapy, or targeted drug therapy.
Dr. Melamed and the team at Advanced Brain & Spine also run an on-site surveillance clinic. This allows them to monitor their patients’ tumors closely and respond to changes quickly.