Doctors are working to learn more about brain tumors, ways to prevent them, how to best treat them, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with a brain tumor. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the best diagnostic and treatment options for you. Enhanced imaging tests.
Brain Cancer Treatment Overview
New techniques for imaging scans are being researched. These may help doctors better track how well treatment is working and watch for possible tumor recurrence or growth. Immunotherapy , also called biological response modifier BRM therapy, is designed to boost the body's natural defenses to fight the tumor.
It uses materials either made by the body or in a laboratory to improve, target, or restore immune system function. Different methods are being studied for brain tumors, such as the use of dendritic cells or the use of vaccines aimed against a specific molecule on the surface of the tumor cells. Several methods are currently being tested in clinical trials. Oncolytic virus therapy. This therapy uses a virus that infects and destroys tumor cells, sparing healthy brain cells.
It is currently being researched as a treatment for brain tumors. Targeted therapy.
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Research continues on the use of therapies for brain tumors that target the different ways a tumor grows, how a tumor spreads, and how tumor cells die. Blood-brain barrier disruption. New drugs and combinations of drugs. Researchers are looking at using drugs currently available for other types of cancer as treatment for a brain tumor.
Pilocytic astrocytoma grade I : A pilocytic astrocytoma grows slowly in the brain or spinal cord. It may be in the form of a cyst and rarely spreads into nearby tissues. Pilocytic astrocytomas can often be cured. Diffuse astrocytoma grade II : A diffuse astrocytoma grows slowly, but often spreads into nearby tissues.
Brain Tumor Research
The tumor cells look something like normal cells. In some cases, a diffuse astrocytoma can be cured. It is also called a low-grade diffuse astrocytoma. Anaplastic astrocytoma grade III : An anaplastic astrocytoma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. The tumor cells look different from normal cells. This type of tumor usually cannot be cured.
An anaplastic astrocytoma is also called a malignant astrocytoma or high-grade astrocytoma. Glioblastoma grade IV : A glioblastoma grows and spreads very quickly. The tumor cells look very different from normal cells. It is also called glioblastoma multiforme. Oligodendroglial Tumors An oligodendroglial tumor begins in brain cells called oligodendrocytes, which help keep nerve cells healthy.
Grades of oligodendroglial tumors include the following: Oligodendroglioma grade II : An oligodendroglioma grows slowly, but often spreads into nearby tissues. In some cases, an oligodendroglioma can be cured. Anaplastic oligodendroglioma grade III : An anaplastic oligodendroglioma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. Mixed Gliomas A mixed glioma is a brain tumor that has two types of tumor cells in it — oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. Oligoastrocytoma grade II : An oligoastrocytoma is a slow-growing tumor.
In some cases, an oligoastrocytoma can be cured. Anaplastic oligoastrocytoma grade III : An anaplastic oligoastrocytoma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. This type of tumor has a worse prognosis than oligoastrocytoma grade II. Ependymal Tumors An ependymal tumor usually begins in cells that line the fluid -filled spaces in the brain and around the spinal cord.
Grades of ependymomas include the following: Ependymoma grade I or II : A grade I or II ependymoma grows slowly and has cells that look something like normal cells. There are two types of grade I ependymoma — myxopapillary ependymoma and subependymoma. A grade II ependymoma grows in a ventricle fluid-filled space in the brain and its connecting paths or in the spinal cord.
In some cases, a grade I or II ependymoma can be cured. Anaplastic ependymoma grade III : An anaplastic ependymoma grows quickly and spreads into nearby tissues. This type of tumor usually has a worse prognosis than a grade I or II ependymoma. Medulloblastomas A medulloblastoma is a type of embryonal tumor.
Pineal Parenchymal Tumors A pineal parenchymal tumor forms in parenchymal cells or pineocytes, which are the cells that make up most of the pineal gland. Grades of pineal parenchymal tumors include the following: Pineocytoma grade II : A pineocytoma is a slow-growing pineal tumor. Pineoblastoma grade IV : A pineoblastoma is a rare tumor that is very likely to spread.
Meningeal Tumors A meningeal tumor, also called a meningioma, forms in the meninges thin layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord. Types of meningeal tumors include the following: Meningioma grade I : A grade I meningioma is the most common type of meningeal tumor. A grade I meningioma is a slow-growing tumor. It forms most often in the dura mater. A grade I meningioma can be cured if it is completely removed by surgery. It grows quickly and is likely to spread within the brain and spinal cord. Germ Cell Tumors A germ cell tumor forms in germ cells, which are the cells that develop into sperm in men or ova eggs in women.
Craniopharyngioma Grade I A craniopharyngioma is a rare tumor that usually forms just above the pituitary gland a pea-sized organ at the bottom of the brain that controls other glands. Recurrent Brain Tumors A recurrent brain tumor is a tumor that has recurred come back after it has been treated. Having certain genetic syndromes may affect the risk of a brain tumor.
The following conditions may increase the risk of certain types of brain tumors: Being exposed to vinyl chloride may increase the risk of glioma.
Having certain genetic syndromes may increase the risk brain tumors: Neurofibromatosis type 1 NF1 or 2 NF2. Tuberous sclerosis. Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Turcot syndrome type 1 or 2.
Modern Brain Tumor Imaging
Nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome. Signs and symptoms depend on the following: Where the tumor forms in the brain. What the affected part of the brain controls. The size of the tumor. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following: Brain Tumors Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting. Frequent nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite. Vision, hearing, and speech problems. Loss of balance and trouble walking. Unusual sleepiness or change in activity level.
Changes in personality, mood, ability to focus, or behavior. Spinal Cord Tumors Back pain or pain that spreads from the back towards the arms or legs. A change in bowel habits or trouble urinating. Weakness in the legs. Trouble walking. The following tests and procedures may be used: Physical exam and history : An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
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A history of the patient's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken. Neurological exam : A series of questions and tests to check the brain, spinal cord, and nerve function. This may also be called a neuro exam or a neurologic exam. This test measures both central vision how much a person can see when looking straight ahead and peripheral vision how much a person can see in all other directions while staring straight ahead. Any loss of vision may be a sign of a tumor that has damaged or pressed on the parts of the brain that affect eyesight.
Tumor marker test : A procedure in which a sample of blood, urine, or tissue is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances made by organs, tissues, or tumor cells in the body. Certain substances are linked to specific types of cancer when found in increased levels in the body. These are called tumor markers. This test may be done to diagnose a germ cell tumor.
Gene testing : A laboratory test in which a sample of blood or tissue is tested for changes in a chromosome that has been linked with a certain type of brain tumor.