Brain Tumor Treatment

Treatment From Local Anchorage Oncologists

Cancer in the brain can have extremely long-lasting and life-changing effects on anyone diagnosed. Due to the major part the brain plays in physical, cognitive, and psychological impacts, even a benign tumor can impact your life. There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors, many with their own large groups of subtypes. At Mat-Su Valley Cancer Center, our oncologists will use the right treatment option to combat whatever form of cancer you are diagnosed with while minimizing harm to the surrounding parts of your brain. Some of our process, such as TrueBeam, are non-invasive and do not require that your head be bolted into a head frame to limit movement, keeping you as comfortable as can be during treatment.

Brain Cancer Signs & Symptoms

A brain tumor forms when abnormal cells in the brain grow rapidly. There are 688,096 people reportedly living with a brain tumor today. Almost 80% of them are benign (non-cancerous) the other 20% are malignant. The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumor patients is 34.4%, so early detection is very important. Brain cancer symptoms can vary based on their location in the brain and the type of tumor. Some of the most common symptoms of brain cancer include:

  • Headaches
  • Issues with vision
  • Seizures/convulsions  
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Difficulty speaking

Brain Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Always seek medical care immediately if you think that you or someone you love might have brain cancer so that they can be examined and diagnosed. Our center has an advanced imaging center next door, giving us a direct connection to fast and efficient image and treatment plan compilation done quickly. Some of the tests that may be conducted to determine if you have brain cancer include:

  • CT Scan – A machine that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the brain.
  • MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) – Magnetic field of radio waves are used to create detailed images of the brain.
  • PET Scan – PET scans use a radioactive substance to examine how organs are functioning.
  • Biopsy – If your radiation oncologist suspects from imaging reports that you have a tumor, he or she may order a biopsy. During a biopsy, sample tissue is collected from the cell mass and then tested to determine if it is benign or malignant.

TrueBeam Brain Cancer Treatment

If you are diagnosed with brain cancer, call our expert Mat-Su Valley and Eagle River oncologists and investigate all of your options. Working with you, our board-certified specialists will develop a customized treatment plan that is right for you. One of our most advanced treatments for dealing with many forms of brain cancer is utilizing TrueBeam’s non-invasive radiation therapy. The TrueBeam system will target your tumor with precise accuracy, and the treatment is pain-free and designed to minimize any side effects.

Once you and your team have chosen TrueBeam as the best option to combat your brain tumor, the treatment process steps include:

  1. A CT Simulation (or MRI or PET scan, in some cases) to determine the location, size, and shape of the tumor, during which you will be fitted with a flexible mesh mask. The comfortable mask is used to help stabilize your head and neck and will be stored for use with all treatments.
  2. The data from your scan will be uploaded into the TrueBeam system and your medical team of radiation oncologists and dosimetrists will decide the exact location and amount of radiation therapy to beam within areas of the brain.
  3. You will return to Mat-Su Valley Cancer Center for your treatment. You can dress comfortably, bring music, and expect no pain as you lie on the comfortable treatment couch for 3 to 5 minutes. The TrueBeam system will rotate around you, beaming different doses of radiation therapy into your tumor at a variety of levels, tracking your tumor and limiting exposure to surrounding parts of your brain.
  4. After your treatment, most patients can return home and continue with their normal routine without interruption. You will be asked to attend follow-up appointments and additional scans may be used to help verify the success of your TrueBeam radiation therapy treatment.

Brain Cancer Types & Stages

When it comes to brain cancer, the progression of the tumor is expressed in “grades.” This is a little different from most other forms of cancer, which have a “stage” system, but it does roughly correspond. These different grades are determined by the tumor’s size and progression, and they are unique to brain cancers. When you are seeking Eagle River brain cancer treatment, it is important to understand where your diagnosis falls on the spectrum and what options are open to you.

List of Tumor Grades

  • Grade I: These tumors have the slowest rate of growth and are the ones that are most associated with long-term survival. Often, they are completely treatable with surgery, and they almost look normal when placed under a microscope.
  • Grade II: These are a bit more abnormal-looking under the microscope, and they also tend to be a little faster-growing than Grade I tumors. They also have a tendency to invade surrounding tissue and may reoccur as a higher grade tumor.
  • Grade III: These tumors are malignant by definition, but there might not be a lot of other detectable differences between Grade II and Grade III tumors besides the fact that Grade III tumors are actively producing abnormal cells at a regular rate.
  • Grade IV: These are the most malignant tumors, and they reproduce rapidly. They also easily grow into normal brain tissue, and they also tend to look bizarre when viewed under a microscope.

Understanding Tumor Grades

When a tumor is diagnosed at a certain grade, it does not necessarily mean that all the cells in the tumor are at that grade. Instead, it means that the primary presentation of the tumor is that grade. Cells at other grade levels may exist within the tumor, and it is possible for the grade of the tumor to change over time. The earlier these tumors are caught, the more successful treatment options end to be. For more information about brain tumors or to schedule a consultation with our Anchorage cancer center, contact us.

Detecting & Treating Brain Cancer

There are a variety of signs and symptoms that point to the brain and spinal cancers, but they do tend to change over time, especially in response to events like seizures. It is also important to understand that most patients will not experience all of the symptoms and that in some cases, they may be asymptomatic for a long time after the tumor develops. For that reason, it is a good idea to make sure you consult with a radiation oncologist if you notice any of the common signs of brain and spinal cord cancers.

Common Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Personality changes or behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness

Diagnosis & Treatment

brain cancer treatmentDiagnosing and treating brain cancers often involves an entire team of medical professionals working together, because the brain is one of the least understood and most complex organs in the body. These radiation oncologists typically include a neurologist who specializes in the brain, a radiation oncologist, a regular oncologist, and an endocrinologist who can monitor the body’s hormonal processes during different phases of treatment.

Treatment options vary quite a bit from case to case, but they include radiation therapy and surgical interventions, as well as chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and the use of other drugs. Sometimes, for residents of Eagle River and Anchorage, brain cancer treatment plans become more comprehensive, and that is to include care for the side-effects of the treatment and for other symptoms related less directly to the tumor itself.

Pursuing Treatment

Once you have a diagnosis of brain cancer, it is important to move into a treatment plan quickly and to work with a team of radiation oncologists who understand your diagnosis and all of the particular tricks and issues that might come with treating your kind of brain cancer. When that happens, it is integral that you reach out to our Eagle River cancer center right away. Our oncologists also specialize in the following areas:

Frequently Asked Questions About Brain Cancer

There are a few questions about brain cancer that Mat-Su Valley Cancer Center gets on a regular basis, and that I why we have put together this list of our best answers to our most common questions.

There are not enough known causes for brain cancer for scientists to reliably say why it is that some people are susceptible and not others, but there are a variety of conditions that can increase someone’s likelihood of developing brain cancer, and they include:

  • Family history
  • A history of certain neurological problems, like neurofibromatosis
  • Exposure to radiation therapy or other chemicals

At our center in Palmer, brain cancer treatment often includes support for patients who have seizures because a fair number of them do develop this symptom. It is far from universal, though, and if you have never had a seizure, the chances of having one are small.

These two scans use different imaging techniques to view the brain, which can lead to their providing different perspectives on possible tumor growths to radiation oncologists. That is why they are often used together. A CT scan uses X-ray machines hooked up to a computer to produce an image of the area. An MRI, on the other hand, uses magnetism and radio waves to produce the image, with the help of a computer processing. Of the two, CT scans are used more often, but it is not uncommon for both scans to be used. Especially when confirming a diagnosis or seeking a second opinion.

Generally speaking, tumors are not automatically cancerous. That does not mean brain tumors can be harmless, however. Even when tumors are benign, the limited space in the skull can cause a growing tumor to put pressure on the brain, causing potentially serious side effects. If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and you are seeking treatment, contact us today.

Call Mat-Su Valley Cancer Center For More Information

If all of these types and stages of brain cancer are confusing to you, give the excerpts at Mat-Su Valley Cancer Center a call at 907-707-1333. We are here to explain the variety of treatment options available to you and make sure all of your questions are answered. For your convenience, we also have an online contact form that you may use to ask your questions or make your first appointment. Your first phone consultation is free, so don’t hesitate to give us a call today. You owe it to yourself to explore all treatment options available to you.

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