Is it just a headache or more?
Most headaches are not caused by a brain tumor, however a headache is often the first thing we think of as a symptom. The fact is, frequent headaches, especially those that get worse over time, or become worse due to activity, are a common symptom of a brain tumor.
Other symptoms may develop over time, or may happen suddenly. These include:
- Changes in hearing, vision or sense of smell and touch
- Loss of balance
- Memory loss
- Mood swings or change in personality
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness on one side of your body
- Speech difficulty
Check with your doctor if you are concerned about any of these symptoms, or if you have more than one symptom of a brain tumor.
Diagnosing brain tumors
If you do have a brain tumor, you’ll want to know right away so you can begin treatment. At Main Line Health, we have the latest diagnostic techniques so we can assess your symptoms and make an accurate diagnosis quickly.
Your diagnostic tests may include:
- Biopsy of tumor, once identified
- Neurologic exam to evaluate brain function
- Physical exam to check your reflexes, vision, coordination and overall health
- Specialized imaging, including skull X-ray and computed tomography scan (CT scan), magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) or position emission tomography (PET) scans to locate tumor, if one exists
A full range of treatment options
Your specific treatment for a brain tumor will depend on the type of tumor you have, where it is located exactly, as well as its size. Other factors, including your age and medical history, will be considered as well. The Main Line Health brain cancer specialists also take into consideration your personal preferences when it comes to treatment planning. We will explain all of your options fully and work with you to provide the best possible care plan for your individual situation.
Your treatment options may include:
- Surgery: Surgery options include robotic and computer guided surgery that enables surgeons to make smaller openings so there is less trauma and recovery. Sometimes, surgery is all that is needed to fully remove a brain tumor.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment is necessary for higher-grade tumors and also when surgeons are unable to remove all of a tumor due to its size and location. Some tumors may respond to chemotherapy alone, without surgery.
- Radiation Therapy: Traditional external beam radiation may be used in combination with chemotherapy for high-grade tumors or those that surgeons cannot fully remove. In addition, Main Line Health offers the latest in internal beam radiation to target tumors more closely.
Living with a brain tumor
Living with a brain tumor can be difficult. Aside from the symptoms you may experience, you must also deal with the side effects from treatments. Medical advancements over the last 20 years have significantly increased the survival rate of patients with brain tumors and helped them to live longer following diagnosis. At Main Line Health, we are not only here to offer you the very best possible treatments, but to answer any questions you may have and to help you navigate all your options during this difficult time.
We offer support and palliative care to address your physical, emotional and social needs during this time. Some palliative care treatments include:
- Anti-seizure medication
- Corticosteroids to lower swelling in the brain
- Emotional support
- Nutritional support
- Relaxation techniques
Our goal is to help reduce your symptoms and improve your quality of life so you can make the most of your time and reach the fullest possible recovery.