Conditions We Treat: Brain Cancer

More than 17,000 people in the United States receive a brain tumor diagnosis per year, with about 5,000 being children. These tumors interfere with vital functions and are life-threatening. Cancerous brain tumors usually grow rapidly, crowding and invading tissue. Primary brain tumors start in the brain and affect the central nervous system, while secondary brain tumors originate elsewhere in the body and have metastasized to the brain. Secondary tumors are about 3 times more common.

After learning you have brain cancer, you can get all the information you need about treatment options from the experienced physicians at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology. In addition to providing customized treatment using today’s most advanced brain cancer therapies, HHO offers many onsite services to support healing and recovery, including a pharmacy, counseling, and dietary services.

Brain Cancer FAQs

How is brain cancer classified?

Brain tumors are either primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors originate in the brain, and they may be benign or malignant.

Some benign brain tumors, such as meningiomas, can invade brain tissue and become just as life-threatening as brain cancer. Additionally, some benign tumors may turn malignant.

Secondary tumors, also called metastatic brain tumors, are cancers that begin in your body and spread to your brain. Lung cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma are most likely to metastasize to the brain.

What type of brain cancer might I develop?

These are a few examples of brain cancers:

Gliomas represent 78% of all brain cancers. These malignant tumors begin in glial cells, which are all the cells in your brain that aren’t neurons. There are several types of gliomas, including oligodendrogliomas, astrocytomas, and ependymomas.

This type of brain cancer arises from the cells that make up the protective sheath covering the nerves. Oligodendroglioma is a relatively slow-growing cancer.

Glioblastoma, also called a grade IV astrocytoma, is an aggressive, fast-growing brain cancer that begins in glial cells called astrocytomas.

Ependymomas, which account for 2-3% of all malignant brain tumors, arise from glial cells called ependymal cells in the brain’s ventricles.

This slow-growing brain cancer originates in blood vessels, is most often in the cerebellum at the base of the brain, and can become quite large.

What symptoms develop with brain cancer?

The location and extent of brain cancer determine symptoms. However, most brain tumors cause:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Vision loss
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Changes in speech
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory loss or confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Personality changes
  • Numbness or weakness on one side of your body

Headaches are one of the earliest symptoms.

How is brain cancer treated?

Whenever possible, you undergo surgery to remove as much of the brain tumor as possible. The team at Hunterdon Hematology Oncology reviews your medical records, evaluates your brain tumor, and talks with you about the treatment options that are best for your type of cancer.

Your treatment options include:

Radiation Therapy
You may receive radiation therapy before surgery to shrink the tumor and make it easier to remove. Radiation therapy may also occur after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells or serve as your primary treatment if surgery isn’t an option.

Several types of radiation therapy are available, including standard external beam radiotherapy and one of the most advanced types, stereotactic radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiosurgery is often recommended when surgery isn’t possible. The specialized device precisely focuses many beams of gamma rays or high-energy X-rays at the tumor, delivering a high dose of radiation without damaging healthy tissues around the tumor.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to destroy brain cancer. Your treatment may be oral, intravenous, or administered directly into the cerebrospinal fluid in your brain or spinal canal. In some cases, your surgeon may place a dissolvable wafer on the cancer site after surgery.

Targeted Therapy
This brain cancer treatment uses medications that target the tumor’s genes, proteins, blood vessels, or other factors that contribute to the cancer’s growth. The medication inhibits cancer growth and blocks cancer cells from spreading.

Tumor Treating Fields (alternating electric field therapy)
Your provider places electrodes on your head, creating an electrical field or tumor treating field. The electrical field interferes with the cancer’s ability to grow and spread.

There may be clinical trials available through Hunterdon Hematology Oncology for brain cancer. If you need to talk about your treatment options, call Hunterdon Hematology Oncology today or book an appointment online.

About HHO

Hunterdon Hematology Oncology is a community oncology group, dedicated to fighting cancer in this community and across the region. Our Doctors, Physician’s Assistants and Nurses work tirelessly. They fight hard so that you can win.


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