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About Brain Tumors

Our dedicated teams of neurosurgeons diagnose and treat all types of brain tumors. A brain tumor is a mass of cells in the brain that grows abnormally and, sometimes, uncontrollably. Brain tumors are characterized as primary tumors or secondary tumors, depending how and where they form. Primary tumors begin in the brain whereas secondary (metastatic) brain tumors occur when cancer cells spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. 

Types of Brain Tumors: Benign or Malignant

Brain tumors are categorized as benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Primary tumors may be either benign or malignant whereas secondary tumors are always malignant.  
A brain tumor diagnosis does not always mean cancer. In fact, there are many types of brain tumors that are benign. In many cases, benign brain tumors can be cured with complete microsurgical removal alone.

Benign brain tumors are not cancerous, but benign does not always mean harmless. Some benign brain tumors can be in "malignant locations,” making them more dangerous and potentially damaging, which might preclude their safe, total surgical removal. If microsurgical resection (surgery that involves the use of a high-powered microscope during tumor removal surgery) is incomplete, there may be a role for the additional treatment of stereotactic radiosurgery, a form of focused radiation treatment performed by a radiation oncologist and neurosurgeon as a team.

Operable vs. Inoperable

The terms operable and inoperable are used to categorize the risk associated with tumor removal. The location of the tumor  determines the risk of removal.. While other factors are considered when determining surgical options, location is the number one factor. There are certain places in the brain that are more dangerous due to the risk of potentially causing further neurological damage.

Brain Tumor Causes & Symptoms

A brain tumor is caused when the DNA of a cell is damaged through a combination of mutation and/or inherited faulty genetic copy, and a cell begins to uncontrollably divide, reproducing itself and becoming unresponsive to the normal signals telling it not to divide.

Symptoms of a brain tumor vary depending on the type, size, location and several other factors. A rapidly growing malignant tumor is more likely to produce symptoms while a slow-growing benign tumor may have no symptoms.

Common brain tumor symptoms include:

  • Seizures 
  • Headache
  • While headaches can be a common symptom, it’s important to note that most people with headaches don’t have a brain tumor. Tumor-associated headaches are often worse in the morning and are frequently associated with nausea and vomiting.
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness in an arm, leg or side of the body
  • Vision, hearing or speech alterations or disturbances
  • Altered behavior or personality changes

Brain Tumor Treatment

Some brain tumors are imminently dangerous and require urgent surgery. Others may be less urgent and can be scheduled when convenient for the patient. Either way, it is important to make arrangements to see a neurosurgeon, preferably one with specific experience and expertise in treating brain tumors.

While surgery is typically the first step in treating brain tumors, our experts recognize that every patient and situation is unique and evaluate each as such, using surgical and non-surgical measures when appropriate. Whether benign or malignant, fast or slow-growing, our neurosurgeons believe in determining the best approach possible for diagnosis and treatment.

Learn more about our approach to brain tumors at gwinnettmedicalgroup.com/neuro or by calling 678-312-2700.