The brain is the control center of the body and mind. And like all other parts of the body, the brain is susceptible to tumors.
There are more than 120 types of brain tumors, ranging from benign – or noncancerous – to malignant – or cancerous. These tumors can significantly impact a person’s quality of life and even become deadly if they interfere with vital bodily functions.
Almost as varied as the tumors themselves are the symptoms they exhibit. Often dependent on the tumor’s size and location, tumors can affect localized organs. For example, a tumor near the region of the brain that controls eyesight may cause vision to be blurry, while a tumor near the region that controls movement may result in difficulty moving arms or legs.
Common signs and symptoms of brain tumors include:
- Seizures: whole-body convulsions, jerking or abnormal movements of a limb or part of the face.
- Changes in motor function: falling, struggles with balance, sudden clumsiness, difficulty swallowing or controlling facial expression, weakness on one side of the body.
- Numbness: loss of feeling in a part of the body or face.
- Changes in memory or thinking: memory loss, difficulty concentrating or remembering, taking longer to complete tasks, feeling confused.
- Changes in personality or mood: changes in behavior or mood, such as depression.
- Changes in vision or hearing: loss of, blurry or double vision, seeing floating spots or shapes as well as hearing difficulties.
- Changes in speech: slurring words, slowed speech.
- Nausea: feeling queasy or vomiting.
- Headaches: despite what many assume, headaches are often not an early sign of a brain tumor, but frequent headaches should be brought to the attention of a doctor.
Fortunately, not all brain tumors are serious. In fact, many tumors are small and benign, and involve just observation and follow up with a doctor. For large or malignant brain tumors, treatments may involve surgery, medications, radiation or chemotherapy.
Recent innovations in the treatment of brain tumors have greatly improved quality of life and longevity. These include treatments that specifically target receptors on the surface of a tumor cell, vaccines that use the body's immune system to fight tumors and therapy that is tailored to the individual patient to minimize side effects. Moreover, advanced techniques such as stereotactic radiosurgery, neuroendoscopy, awake-brain mapping and electrophysiological mapping maximize the precision of tumor removal while minimizing risk.
The brain is a delicate and complex area. When seeking treatment, it is important to be treated at a comprehensive cancer center that provides both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary care. Hospital networks that include academic medical centers, like NewYork-Presbyterian, are at the forefront of research and clinical trials and offer the latest innovations in care.
NewYork-Presbyterian (NYP) Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. NYP Cancer Centers provide a comprehensive program of cancer services in a state-of-the-art, comfortable environment. Board certified medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location, visit nyp.org/cancerlocations.
NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News and World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at nyp.org/cancer.