Symptoms

  • Persistent headaches
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Changes in ability to think and learn
  • Memory loss
  • New onset of seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Speech difficulty

Diagnosis

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First Steps | Neurological Exam

The first test performed by doctors is a nerological exam. These tests include things as such as vision, hearing, balance, coordination, reflexes and strength.

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Scans | Imaging

Generally, if a brain tumor is suspected, a CT scan (Computed Tomography) is very often ordered by the doctor. If it is suspected that there is something there, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is then ordered. Many times a fluid is injected through IV to enhance what the doctors see. This is often referred to as "contrast". 

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Surgery | Biopsy

If it is determined that there is in fact a tumour present, surgery is often the first step. While removing the tumor, a sample is collected and sent off for testing to confirm what type of tumor is present. If removal is not possible, just a biopsy is performed.

Treatment

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Surgery

As mentioned earlier, the first step in treatment is removal. In Jame's case, this was not possible due to tumour location, so only a biopsy was performed.

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Radiation

Following surgery, the next step is radiation treatment. This can be in the form of whole brain radiation which treats the entire brain, or intensity-modulated radiation therapy. The latter being more focused, sparing healthy brain tissue.

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Chemotherapy

Depending on the type and severity of tumour, chemotherapy is given while completing radiation therapy. Following the completion of all prescribed radiation, additional chemo is given for 5 days straight, in a dose based on body weight, followed by a rest period. This cycle is generally done for 5 - 6 months upon completion of radiotherapy.