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Primary Brain Tumor Treatment in New Jersey

Doctor Showing Brain Scan On TabletT

he board-certified neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics in New Jersey treat every kind of brain tumor whether it is a primary or a secondary brain tumor. The difference between the two is the following:

  • A primary brain tumor forms in the brain first. Depending on the type of tumor, it may or may spread to other parts of the body.
  • A secondary brain tumor first forms in a different part of the body other than the head. It then spreads to the brain and forms additional tumors in the brain.

While primary brain tumors are less common, the team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics is well-versed in diagnosing and treating any tumor that may grow within the nervous system. Brain tumors are typically categorized based on several aspects with the first being whether they are considered primary or secondary. The second concern is from which neural tissue the tumor originates. The third concern is the grade of the tumor. Brain cancer is unique in that it typically stays within the brain, specifically it does not go outside of the central nervous system. Consequently, the process for grading a brain tumor involves determining how aggressive the tumor cells appear under a microscope, how much the tumor has invaded nearby tissue, the size, and rate of growth. The recognized brain tumor Grading System progressively ranks tumors I through IV. A Grade I rank indicates non-aggressive tumor growth whereas Grade IV indicates the most aggressive. To learn more about how Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics diagnoses, grades, and treats primary or secondary brain tumors, contact CNSO today.

Most brain tumors are secondary brain tumors spreading to the brain from other parts of the body, most often the breast, lung, and colon. The most common primary brain tumors are the meningioma, pituitary adenoma, glioblastoma (also known as glioblastoma multiform), lymphoma, astrocytoma, and craniopharyngioma. Most tumors require a specimen be analyzed by a pathologist in order to confirm the type of tumor tissue. Below are some of the more uncommon primary brain tumors.

Craniopharyngioma

Craniopharyngioma is a slow-growing tumor located in the central part of the brain near the pituitary gland. Craniopharyngiomas are often benign and Grade I unless care is delayed. Symptoms can include:

  • Confusion, mood swings, or other behavioral changes
  • Double vision
  • Headaches
  • Impaired peripheral vision
  • Increased thirst or more frequent urination
  • Loss of balance
  • Nausea and vomiting

Because this type of tumor grows next to the pituitary gland, a craniopharyngioma may disrupt normal hormone production causing the patient symptoms similar to that of a type of pituitary disease. The risk factors and causes of a craniopharyngioma are unknown.

An MRI or CT scan is used to diagnose a craniopharyngioma. Blood or urine tests can detect whether there is a hormonal imbalance. A craniopharyngioma can be removed by CNSO neurosurgeons using an endoscope via the nose so the is no scar or by using other minimally invasive technique endoscopic approaches for a craniotomy or an open craniotomy. If necessary, surgery may be followed by radiation therapy to remove the remaining parts of the tumor. Some patients may require hormone replacement therapy after the tumor is removed.

Brain Lymphoma also known as a Cerebral Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a type of cancer that can originate anywhere within the body. It forms from white blood cells, called lymphocytes, which provide an immunologic function. Lymphocytes can spread into most parts of the body, including the brain and spinal cord. A primary lymphoma of the brain originates in the brain and it is a malignant tumor. Symptoms can vary from patient to patient, but may include:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Headache
  • Hearing loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness on one side of the body (hemiparesis)

It’s not clear what causes lymphoma of the brain, but it is more common in men than in women and tends to occur among people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. People who are immunocompromised are at a higher risk of developing this type of lymphoma.

The process to diagnosis a brain tumor, including a lymphoma of the brain would progress as follows:

  • A physical examination with an emphasis on the neurological system to test for any effects on motor function, sensory function, vision, hearing, and balance
  • CT or MRI scans to check the brain or spine for tumors
  • Blood work
  • A biopsy of the tumor and/or extraction of the tumor during the same procedure. A specimen would be sent to a pathologist on standby for confirmation of the tumor tissue type. (Primary, Secondary, and Grading)

Some patients may also benefit from corticosteroids, which can help shrink a tumor. While there’s no cure for lymphoma of the brain, there is treatment that will alleviate the symptoms, improve quality of life, and extend life expectancy. Treatment may involve the removal of the tumor, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or a combination.

Clival Tumors and Chordoma

A clival tumor is a rare type of tumor that originates in the clivus, a portion of bone located at the base of the skull. A type of clival tumor is the chordoma. This type of tumor can press on nerves near the base of the skull, which causes headaches, eyesight problems, or muscle weakness. Chordomas may also be characterized by:

  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nosebleeds
  • Runny nose

The cause of clival tumors is unclear. Chordomas are slightly more common in men than in women and typically occur in people between the ages of 40 and 70.

Doctors will use a neurological exam to identify symptoms like problems with balance or hearing. Clival tumors are typically diagnosed with imaging tests such as a computed tomography (CT) or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. A specimen of the tissue is required to confirm the diagnosis of a clival tumor or chordoma. Chordomas are typically surgically removed, but radiation therapy or proton therapy may also be used as a follow-up treatment to surgery. These tumors have a high rate of recurrence, so doctors will utilize ongoing imaging tests after treatment.

Sarcoma

Sarcoma is a term applied for a group of cancers that develop in the bone or muscle tissue. Patients at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics can receive treatment for sarcomas of the skull and head or spine, including chondrosarcoma, gliosarcoma, and rhabdomyosarcoma.

Chondrosarcoma

Chondrosarcomas are slow-growing malignant tumors that can occur in the base of the skull or the spine, as well as in other cartilage cells throughout the body. Chondrosarcomas tend to occur in older adults and patients with certain conditions like Ollier disease, Maffucci syndrome, and Paget disease. Symptoms may include pain or pressure at the site of the tumor.

A biopsy is required to confirm diagnosis. Typically, chondrosarcomas are surgically removed via a craniotomy or transsphenoidal technique to access the tumor. Radiation therapy may also be used to supplement treatment after surgery.

Gliosarcoma

This is a rare type of grade IV brain tumor that occurs most often in patients between the ages of 40 and 60. A gliosarcoma forms out of the glial cells and can develop in the brain or in the spinal cord.  They stay within the central nervous system. The cause of a gliosarcoma is unclear, but genetics may be a factor. Patients with gliosarcoma may experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Numbness
  • Seizures

Surgery is required to biopsy the tissue, determine an accurate diagnosis, and remove as much of the tumor as possible. Because gliosarcomas grow aggressively, patients may also require chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or immunotherapy.

Rhabdomyosarcoma

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a type of malignant tumor that can occur anywhere on the body but presents most commonly in the head and neck. Symptoms depend on the location of the tumor. If the tumor is located in the head, a patient may experience:

  • Headache
  • Nosebleeds
  • Swelling of the eyes

While doctors are not sure what causes rhabdomyosarcoma, family history of cancer, as well as certain genetic conditions, may be risk factors. A rhabdomyosarcoma is more common in children.

A doctor will typically perform a biopsy to diagnose rhabdomyosarcoma. Other tests may include blood, bone marrow, and imaging of other body parts to check if cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Treatment will depend on the location and size of the tumor and may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or a combination of these methods.

Ependymoma of the Brain

Ependymoma is a very rare type of tumor that develops in the brain or spinal cord and can spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms of an ependymoma may include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs
  • Trouble with balance

Patients’ symptoms may develop slowly over time. Depending on where and how quickly the tumor is growing, symptoms may vary.

An ependymoma is very rare. The causes of these tumors and the risk factors remain unclear.  CNSO doctors will use neurological examination, imaging if a tumor is suspected and if a suspected ependymoma is seen, a biopsy or removal may be recommended as well as other forms of treatment.

Many patients with ependymoma require surgery to remove the tumor. Some patients can also benefit from radiation therapy or chemotherapy as an additional treatment after surgery to help destroy any remaining tumor cells. CNSO doctors will use follow-up MRI scans to continually assess the complete remission and cure of the cancer.

Get Treatment at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics

The award-winning neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics are highly skilled experts in the surgical procedures required to remove brain tumors. They also work hand in hand with radiation oncologists to ensure compassionate comprehensive care of their patients. CNSO neurosurgeons continue to serve patients across New Jersey at multiple convenient locations. To learn more about treatment for any primary brain tumors or secondary brain tumors, contact CNSO today.

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In order to provide an accurate diagnosis with the most effective treatment option for “back problems” and brain tumors, CNSO is led by neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons. Under the care of our award-winning neurosurgeons and orthopedic spine surgeons, Northern NJ patients can have the confidence that their medical condition will be handled with consideration for their comfort and long-term well-being as well as technical excellence.

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