Tumors are either benign or malignant, where benign ones are noncancerous and malignant ones are cancerous. (This is a relatively new distinction, whose purpose is for clarity – “benign cancer” was confusing to many patients.) A tumor can be highly complex, and never more so than when it involves the brain, which is the most complex organ in the body.
Whether benign or cancerous, a brain tumor always requires immediate medical attention and treatment. This is because both malignant and benign tumors can grow and therefore interfere with normal brain function. Most brain tumors can be successfully resected (removed) through a surgical procedure called a craniotomy.
Brain tumors are defined by grade, rather than by stage as are most other types of cancer. The grade indicates the level of complexity of the tumor: Grade 1 is a very low-level tumor, and grade 4 is the highest level.
There are different treatment approaches for benign vs. cancerous brain tumors. Let’s talk about these treatments and how they work:
How Is a Benign Brain Tumor Treated?
Craniotomy for benign brain tumors is a very complex surgical procedure that requires deep expertise in order to avoid damaging the surrounding brain tissue. It is possible, although very rare, for a benign brain tumor to grow back after removal.
It is in your best interest to discuss all of the possibilities with your neurosurgeon. The doctor will likely recommend that you have regular follow-up scans after your resection surgery so that the surgeon can ensure that the tumor is not growing back.
Malignant Brain Tumor Treatment Procedure
A malignant or cancerous brain tumor is fast-growing and aggressive, and it can interfere with many different parts of your brain. This type of cancer requires immediate treatment using a comprehensive approach that may involve surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
For low-grade brain cancers, surgery may be the only treatment necessary. For high-grade cancers, surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted drug therapy may be recommended.
If there are any parts of the brain cancer that cannot be removed via surgery, they can be killed using radiation therapy and chemotherapy. If the tumor cannot be removed due to its location – for instance, if it’s near the spinal cord – then the neurosurgeon may just remove part of the tumor to relieve pressure and then follow up with radiation and chemotherapy. If any tumor cells are left unremoved, the neurosurgeon along with other members of your healthcare team will closely monitor its growth.
Treatment for Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer in Colorado
Brain tumor surgery should only be performed by a highly experienced neurosurgeon. Our brain surgeons here at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery are experts in all areas of neurosurgery and are experienced in the treatment of complex brain tumors and brain cancer.
Living with a brain tumor can impact anyone physically and psychologically, and our mission is to provide highly supportive patient-centric care. If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified neurosurgeons, call Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery today at (303) 790-1800 or fill out our online appointment request form now. We look forward to seeing you here.