Q. Are brain tumors hereditary?
A. There are some brain tumors that are hereditary but the majority are not. As of yet, there aren’t any known causes for brain tumors. With metastatic brain tumors, the original, or primary, cancer may be hereditary, but the actual spread of the tumor to the brain is not.
Q. Is a brain tumor cancer?
A. Some brain tumors are cancerous and some are not. Malignant tumors are considered cancer. Two of the most common forms of brain cancer are metastatic brain tumors (brain metastases) and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Benign tumors are not considered cancer. Some benign tumors have malignant forms, such as malignant meningiomas. Also, some benign brain tumors later develop into cancer. The reasons for this are unknown.
Q. What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?
A. The most common symptoms include headaches, which can be most severe in the morning; nausea or vomiting, which can be most severe in the morning; seizures or convulsions; difficulty thinking, speaking, or finding words; personality changes; weakness or paralysis in one part or one side of the body; loss of balance; vision changes; confusion and disorientation; and memory loss. Different parts of the brain control different functions, so symptoms will vary depending on the tumor’s location. While these are the most common symptoms of a brain tumor, they can also indicate other medical problems. If you are having any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor and get a definitive diagnosis.
Q. How is a brain tumor diagnosed?
A. A brain tumor diagnosis usually involves several steps, which can include a neurological examination, brain scan(s) which is a picture of the internal structures in the brain, an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT, or CAT Scan (Computed Tomography), PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography) which provides a picture of the brain’s activity by measuring the rate at which a tumor absorbs glucose (a sugar) and/or a biopsy.