Learning you have a brain tumor is life changing. Effective treatment depends on an accurate diagnosis and a team of specially trained experts. Our compassionate care team provides in-depth expertise, and your nurse navigator will be with you every step of the way so you can begin treatment within days.
When you’re diagnosed with a brain tumor, every day counts. We help you review and understand your options quickly. You can trust us with education, what to expect and next steps after you’re diagnosed.
Brain cancer detection and diagnosis
Most brain tumors are found when you report unusual symptoms to your doctor. Some of the more noticeable symptoms are headaches that get worse over time, balance problems, personality and behavioral changes and even seizures. During your visit, your doctor will test physical skills like your reflexes, muscle strength, sensation, eye and mouth movement, vision, coordination and alertness.
If a tumor is suspected, your doctor will send you for additional exams or tests to confirm the diagnosis. You’ll usually be referred to our advanced imaging services and may need a biopsy to identify the type of tumor and whether it is benign or malignant (cancerous). You may have a lumbar puncture to determine if, and how far, the cancer has spread. A pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing disease, will look at your cell samples to identify the presence of cancer cells and determine its type and whether it’s noninvasive or invasive.
Learn the basics of brain tumors.
See frequently asked question about brain tumors.
Innovative technologies offered at SCL Health
We target brain tumors with some of the most advanced treatments and technology available. Throughout our system, our accredited cancer programs may offer:
- 3-D navigation - An innovative technology that allows brain surgeons to pinpoint a tumor’s location within the brain on all three planes. Throughout surgery, a surgeon can detect and precisely determine where the tumor ends and normal brain tissue begins.
- Functional MRI brain mapping - This technique allows surgeons to locate specific areas of the brain before surgery so they can determine the best approach to avoid critical areas of the brain that control movement, speech and other functions.
- Minimally invasive neurosurgery – A surgical technique available for some patients, where a neurosurgeon uses a thin tube with a light and camera at the end to access difficult-to-reach areas of the brain.
- Non-invasive brain surgery – A radiation therapy technique where no surgical incision is made to expose the inside of the brain, eliminating complications that occur with open brain surgery.
- Radiation oncology targeting – A medical device that allows radiation oncologists to precisely target areas of the brain where a cancerous tumor was removed.
You will need to call your local hospital to learn which of these options are available in your area.
Talking with healthcare providers about a diagnosis of brain cancer can be overwhelming. It helps to be prepared with questions to ask during your appointments.
Coping with thinking and memory problems
Your brain is a finely tuned machine built to help you with cognitive skills, such as thinking, reasoning and processing information. When you have a tumor and when you have treatment, your cognitive skills can be affected. Learn about the best ways to cope with thinking and memory problems during cancer treatment.