A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Doctors now know that brain tumors fall somewhere along a spectrum of benign and malignant.
There are 150 different types of primary brain tumors. The most common of these include:
- Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)
- Anaplastic astrocytoma
- Vestibular schwannoma (acoustic neuroma)
- Pituitary adenoma
- Neoplastic meningitis
There are many treatment options if you have a brain tumor. Treatment usually begins with surgery. Surgery to diagnose a tumor is called a biopsy. Surgery to remove a tumor is called resection.
When tumor removal is needed, we first perform a procedure called a craniotomy. Your surgeon will create a window in the skull to reach the tumor. We use the most advanced surgical techniques for the greatest safety and results. Tumors often called “inoperable” become operable with these techniques. A craniotomy is not necessary for all patients with a suspected brain tumor. Sometimes your doctor can make a diagnosis with a minimally invasive stereotactic biopsy.
After surgery, many brain tumor patients will require chemotherapy and/or radiation.
Services We Offer
Our neurosurgery and neuro-oncology team offers the most advanced techniques and technologies including:
- Awake functional mapping
- Minimally invasive techniques
- Endoscopic endonasal approaches
- Advanced neuroimaging
- Intrathecal (IT) chemotherapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery
- Laser ablation
- Vaccine and immunotherapy
Diseases We Treat
We treat the following brain-related conditions:
Meet the Team
Prevention and Screening
According to the American Cancer Society, there are no known ways to prevent most brain tumors. Limiting radiation exposure may reduce your risk. Uncontrollable risk factors include family history and certain medical conditions.
There is currently no recommended screening for brain tumors in people with no symptoms.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
A brain tumor occurs when abnormal cells form in the brain. In the past, tumors fell into one of two categories: malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).
Tumor size and location, how far it has spread, and brain swelling can affect symptoms. The most common symptoms of brain tumors are:
- Changes in mental function
- Changes in vision
- Weakness in one part of the body
Headaches caused by brain tumors may:
- Get worse when you wake up in the morning and clear up in a few hours
- Get worse with coughing, exercise or a change in body position
- Occur during sleep
- Occur with vomiting, confusion, double vision, weakness or numbness
Other symptoms can include:
- Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness and coma)
- Changes in hearing, taste or smell
- Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures
- Confusion or memory loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty writing or reading
- Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
- Eye problems such as eyelid drooping, uncontrollable eye movement and vision difficulties
- Hand tremor
- Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
- Loss of balance or coordination, clumsiness, trouble walking
- Muscle weakness in the face, arm or leg (usually on just one side)
- Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- Personality, mood, behavior or emotional changes
- Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
The following tests can be used to diagnose and locate a brain tumor:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan of the head
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the head
- Examination of tissue removed from the tumor during surgery or CT-guided biopsy
- Examination of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) (may show cancerous cells)
Outlook & Prognosis
Brain tumors range in behavior from harmless to very aggressive. This is why the outlook for patients can vary. Finding the brain tumor early and seeking treatment at a specialized brain tumor center provides the best outcomes.
Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.
Find the care your family needs, close to home, at one of our many locations throughout central Pennsylvania.Find a location near you