By: Dr. Ahmad Elakil

When there is a possibility that you may have a brain tumor, our multi-disciplinary team of specialists at Insight will work closely with you to assess symptoms, develop an accurate diagnosis, and design a treatment plan to meet your needs. As we discussed in Understanding Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumors, a brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). There are also two types of brain cancers, primary and secondary. In this blog, we will explain how brain tumors are diagnosed and treated at Insight Neurosurgery. We will also explore prognosis and what you can expect after treatment. 

How Is a Brain Tumor Diagnosed?

A brain tumor is a diagnosable condition. There are several procedures that are used to assist in the detection of a brain tumor. Before appropriate tests are ordered, patients will be asked about symptoms they are experiencing. 

A physical examination is also likely to follow the range of questions. Furthermore, the doctor needs to get an overview of the patient’s medical history. This can give the doctor an idea of whether there is a history of cancer in the patient. The doctor can also identify other existing conditions that could be the cause behind the symptoms experienced. 

Imaging tests are essential to assist in diagnosing the condition. This generally starts with a magnetic resonance imaging test. A CT or a PET scan can also be used to assist in the diagnosis process. Finally, a biopsy may be collected to help the doctor determine if the growth is benign or cancerous.  

Treatment Options for a Brain Tumor

If a brain tumor is found, it first needs to be tested. The doctor needs to know if the tumor is cancerous or not. In cases of cancer, additional tests are conducted to see if it’s a primary or secondary brain tumor. 

Treatment will generally include radiation and chemotherapy. A combination of these two treatment options is used to provide a more effective way of eliminating cancer cells in the patient’s body. 

Brain surgery is sometimes advised as a treatment option. In this case, the surgeon will attempt to remove the tumor through a surgical procedure. 

Prognosis for a Brain Tumor

There is no fixed view on the prognosis of a brain tumor. One patient may be able to recover successfully with minimal downtime. Another patient, however, may not be as lucky. This is why a doctor will generally take many factors of the patient into account when determining the most appropriate treatment option. Several factors determine the risk of serious complications. There are also factors that can be used to help in estimating the patient’s chances of survival. 

The first factor that will be taken into consideration is the type of tumor. A malignant brain tumor is considered one of the most dangerous types. This is a type of cancer that has spread from other parts of the body to the brain. It’s also possible for a primary brain tumor to become malignant. This means cancer spreads from the brain to other areas of the patient’s body. 

The patient’s well-being is taken into consideration as well. A person who is otherwise healthy may generally have a better prognosis than those who have additional health problems. Age is yet another important factor that plays a role in the possible outcome of the condition. Older patients tend to have a lower survival rate when compared to younger people. 

There are some overall statistics that have been previously published. These statistics account for all patients that are reported to be diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor. According to one report, the 10-year survival rate among people with a primary malignant tumor is about 14%. Within a one-year period, an estimated 40% of people are able to survive with a primary malignant tumor. The five-year survival rate is reported at an estimated 19%. It is important to note that these statistics refer to patients who have obtained adequate treatment for the tumor.

What Happens After Treatment?

When treatment for a brain tumor is a success, it is surely a great relief for the patient. Unfortunately, there have been several reports of brain tumors returning after a few years. There is no way to accurately provide a patient with data on whether they will experience a brain tumor’s recurrence. Thus, it’s important that patients follow an appropriate system when treatment stops. 

The patient should ensure they have a regular schedule of follow-ups with a healthcare professional. During these appointments, the healthcare provider will ask the patient if they experienced any symptoms that may signal a brain tumor’s recurrence. These appointments are recommended to occur at least once a year. This ensures detection of a brain tumor is possible in a very early state of recurrence. 

The doctor or surgeon may also suggest the patient undergo imaging tests with each of the follow-up appointments. This provides an extra level of precaution, as there may not always be early symptoms when the brain tumor returns. 

In some patients, there are complications that persist even after treatment has been successful. This may include problems with speech, difficulties with walking and movement, as well as a possibility of experiencing seizures. In these cases, the patient will require access to therapies that help in the management of these long-term complications. These therapy sessions should remain an important part of the rehabilitation process following the treatment of the brain tumor. 

Scheduling An Appointment

The first step to treating a brain tumor is the diagnostics process, as we have noted. This involves a few imaging tests to better understand if a brain tumor is causing symptoms. Even when a brain tumor is not present, gaining a diagnosis for related symptoms can be helpful. 

Dr. Ahmad Elakil is a highly experienced neurosurgeon. He has worked with numerous patients who have experienced problems related to brain tumors. Dr. Elakil is also experienced in working with conditions like neck pain, lower back pain, spinal cord injury, and other brain conditions. He can provide a consultation to help you understand what the cause behind your symptoms may be,  as well as offer suggestions on the most appropriate treatments to reduce symptoms and avoid future complications. 

To request an appointment with Dr. Ahmad Elakil or to learn more about the services offered at Insight Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago, Please call (312) 567-2273 or click here to find out about next day appointments.