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