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Brain Tumors

About Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors do not contain cancer cells and do not invade nearby tissue, but they can press on sensitive areas of the brain and cause symptoms. Malignant tumors contain cancer cells and can invade healthy tissue.

About 80 percent of malignant brain tumors don't originate in the brain, but arise from cancerous cells that have spread from other primary cancers in the body. This type of brain tumor is called a metastatic tumor. You may also hear the word metastasis or "mets."

Diagnosis

MidMichigan has state-of-the-art technology for detecting and diagnosing all types of brain tumors. If your doctor suspects you have a brain tumor, he or she may refer you to one of our board-certified neurosurgeons or radiation oncologists (see the list of doctors located to the right). Your doctor or specialist may use some of the following methods to arrive at a diagnosis: 

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - This diagnostic tool, which uses magnetic scanning, is useful in diagnosing brain tumors because it can "see" through the bones of the skull to the tissue underneath.
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) - Also known as a CAT scan, this advanced x-ray technology provides a series of detailed pictures of tissues, bone and blood vessels.

Treatment Options

Treatment for a brain tumor depends on a number of factors, including the type of tumor, the location and the size, as well as the patient's age and general health. If you are diagnosed with a brain tumor, your physician may recommend any one or a combination of the following treatment options:

  • Surgery - Called a craniotomy, a neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull to remove all or as much of the tumor as possible without damaging vital tissue. This may be followed up with additional treatments such as radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy. Surgery is often recommended for patients with tumors larger than 4 cm in size.
  • Gamma Knife surgery - A highly specialized technology with sub-millimeter accuracy that relies on three-dimensional computer-assisted planning to target and then destroy brain tumors with high-energy radiation. Because this type of surgery doesn't require opening the skull or damaging other brain tissue, it is offering new hope to many brain tumor patients, especially those with deeply embedded tumors, tumors less than 4 cm in size, or patients who would otherwise not be candidates for surgery.
  • Chemotherapy - Drugs taken by mouth or intravenously, which destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy is generally less successful with brain tumors than with tumors found in other areas of the body.

The MidMichigan Difference

  • A statewide leader in neuroscience and cancer care.
  • Board-certified neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists specially trained and experienced in a variety of treatment methods, including Gamma Knife® surgery.
  • Four hospitals and three radiation oncology centers located in safe and friendly communities in the middle of Michigan.
  • Our experts provide personalized attention and a wide range of services that offer hope and support through a difficult time. For example, MidMichigan Medical Center in Midland has an Oncology Nurse Navigator who guides patients through their course of treatment.

Gamma Knife® is a registered trademark of Elekta Group