If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with a malignant (cancerous) brain tumor, you may be wondering where it came from, how fast it's progressing and what it all means. It's completely normal to feel confused, scared or even angry about a brain cancer diagnosis. That's why it's important to have a knowledgable and compassionate neurooncology team dedicated to yours or your loved one's course of treatment.
What is Brain Cancer?
Also called a malignant brain tumor, brain cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue that impacts proper brain function. There are over 120 different types of tumors in the brain and central nervous system, and these types of tumors are different for everyone. Brain tumors initiate in different areas and from different cell types. That's why an individulized approach to brain cancer treatment is important as well as a full understanding of the anatomy of the brain.
How are Brain Tumors Classified?
Benign: Also called non-cancerous, this type of brain tumor grows slowly and is the least aggressive kind.
Malignant: Also called cancerous, malignant brain tumors are considered life-threatening because of their ability to spread into surrounding tissue.
Primary: Tumors that originate in the brain. Primary brain tumors rarely spread to other parts of the body, but may spread within the brain or to the spinal cord.
Metastastic: Also called secondary brain tumors, metastastic brain tumors originate in another part of the body before spreading to the brain. Metastastic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors.
Common Brain Cancer Symptoms Include:
- Changes in vision
- Personality changes
- Poor coordination
- Memory loss
- Frequent confusion and difficulty speaking and comprehending
- Headaches that recur
These symtpoms vary and do not always tell the whole story, nor are they always indicative of a brain tumor. While diagnosing a brain tumor can be a complicated process, the first step is often an MRI of the brain.
What Makes Brain Cancer Treatment at Stamford Health Unique?
The neurooncology program at the Bennett Cancer Center offers the most advanced brain cancer treatments, both as individual interventions and as part of a multifaceted treatment approach, including:
- CyberKnife® radiosurgery and treatments that target brain tumors with pinpoint accuracy while delivering enhanced doses of radiation therapy to both improve efficacy and minimize toxicity. All of these benefits are accomplished without the need to surgically insert stabilizing devices into the skull.
- Standard radiation therapy
- Traditional and minimally invasive neurosurgical interventions and procedures
- State-of-the-art chemotherapy and biologic therapies
- Cutting edge clinical research protocols as well as individualized targeted therapies available through innovative, personalized-medicine collaborative research programs. These programs utilize the latest molecular medicine tools, including next-generation sequencing (NGS) of the individual tumor DNA.
In 2016, the Bennett Cancer Center and Stamford Hospital partnered with the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI)/Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as a member of the Cancer Care Collaborative. These initiatives, in conjunction with the Bennett Cancer Center’s longstanding membership in the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG), continue to assure that the neurooncology program at the Bennett Cancer Center and Stamford Hospital will be able to provide cutting edge clinical research studies generally available only at academic centers to patients in Fairfield County and Westchester County.