LOADING

Type to search

Q. What exactly is a brain tumor?

A. A primary brain tumor is a growth that originates, spreads and remains within the brain. It is not technically considered cancer. A cancer is a malignant tumor that spreads beyond its place of origin. Primary brain tumors can be malignant or benign. Both types consist of abnormal cells that grow uncontrollably. Malignant tumors develop bizarre cells that tend to grow fast, while benign tumors have cells more similar to normal cells, and they generally grow slowly.

While benign brain tumors don’t always require treatment, options include medication, radiation and surgery. The most common type is a meningioma, which arises from the brain’s lining, compressing the brain as it grows. Most can be removed surgically. The most common type of brain tumor in adults is a primary malignant tumor called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

Q. What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?

A. Symptoms depend on the tumor’s location. If it arises in a fairly quiet spot, you won’t be much affected. However, if it arises in the left frontal lobe, which controls language, you can have trouble forming words. If it’s in the right frontal lobe, you may have no symptoms till it grows big enough to cause pressure in your head, which can lead to confusion and headaches. A tumor in a motor area can affect coordination in the opposite-side limbs. If located in the right parietal region, it can cause loss of spatial orientation. Seizures can occur at any stage of a tumor’s growth. Evidence indicates that an interplay of genetics and environment causes malignant brain tumors.

Q. How is a brain tumor diagnosed?

A. If an examination reveals a neurologic impairment or if a significant new headache has developed, you should undergo an MRI, the best test for providing evidence of a brain tumor(s). Definitive diagnosis is made by biopsy.

Q. What are my treatment options?

A. Benign tumors can sometimes simply be watched if they’re not causing symptoms. For some patients, a one-time radiation treatment with Gamma Knife is highly effective. The most effective treatment for a malignant primary tumor is to surgically remove as much of it as possible. Additional treatment can include precisely-targeted radiation and chemotherapy. Following treatment, the average longevity is two years; however, some patients can be cured, which means that after five years, there’s no evidence of a tumor. It is important to not lose hope following a diagnosis. There are many treatment options, and some can be extremely effective for some people.

Q. What is Northern Westchester Hospital’s (NWH) approach to brain tumors?

A. NWH neurosurgeons, all board-certified, have relationships with institutions throughout America where trials of novel treatments are being conducted. So by coming to NWH, you have a wide range of advanced treatment options. In addition, our use of highly precise computer-guided surgery (not to be confused with robotic surgery) for removal of malignant tumors offers patients the utmost in safety, as large areas of the brain are not exposed to possible damage; while patients enjoy a quick recovery.  

Learn More About Dr. Kornel
Director, Neurosciences
Orthopedic and Spine Institute
Northern Westchester Hospital

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health.


Read Past Topics from Dr. Kornel: 
Whiplash and Traumatic Brain Injury
Expert Solutions For Back Pain  
Are Artificial Discs the Answer to Back Problems?

Ezriel (Ed) Kornel, MD, FACS