Taking Care of Your Health

Brain Tumor Awareness Month-Protect Yourself by Knowing What to Look For

May 09, 2018


More than 20,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with brain and spinal cord tumors each year. Like any other form of cancer, brain cancer that is detected early – before it has a chance to grow and spread – is more likely to be treated successfully.

Currently, there are no screening tests available for early-stage brain cancer that have proven to be reliable enough to justify their routine use in the general population. What’s more, other than prior radiation exposure, there are no confirmed lifestyle-related or environmental causes that have been definitively linked to the development of brain and spinal cord tumors. In most cases, a diagnosis is confirmed only after an individual seeks medical attention for symptoms. For these reasons, everyone is encouraged to learn to recognize possible signs of a brain or spinal cord tumor and to promptly report anything unusual to a physician.

There are many types of brain and spinal cord tumors, all of which form after healthy cells undergo abnormal changes that cause them to grow and divide at a very rapid rate. The resulting accumulation of excess cells can bind together and form a mass, or tumor. As they grow, these tumors can create pressure on sensitive areas of the brain and spinal cord, and potentially spread into other tissue.

Some common symptoms of brain and spinal cord tumors include:

· Headaches that gradually increase in frequency or severity
· Unexplained nausea or vomiting
· Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or a loss of peripheral vision
· Speech difficulties
· Hearing problems
· General confusion
· Memory problems
· Personality or behavioral changes
· A progressive loss of sensation or movement in an arm or leg
· Balance difficulties
· Seizures

Because most of these symptoms can also be attributed to other, less serious medical conditions, it is important to discuss them with an experienced oncologist who specializes in treating brain cancer and can diagnose or rule out a brain or spinal cord tumor. For this type of expertise, many people turn to the Neuro-Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center.

At Moffitt, a multispecialty team of experts evaluates each patient to investigate the source of possible brain cancer symptoms. We offer a full range of advanced diagnostic tests on site, including imaging and biopsies, and our goal is to provide our patients with the answers they need as quickly as possible. In addition to multiple expert opinions, our patients benefit from highly individualized treatment recommendations and compassionate supportive care.

To discuss possible brain cancer symptoms with an experienced neuro-oncologist at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online. We do not require referrals.