- What doctor can diagnose brain cancer?
- Brain cancer diagnostics at the early stage
- Tips for brain cancer detection at the initial stage
The brain is divided into 3 parts. Each part is responsible for a specific function. Depending on the part of the brain where the tumor has started to develop, the specific first symptoms may appear.
- Frontal: Movement, intellect, logical thinking, behavior, memory, decision-making, personality, planning, judgment, initiative, mood.
- Temporal: Speech, behavior, memory, hearing, vision, emotions.
- Parietal: Intellect, logical thinking, the difference between right and left sides, language, sensations, reading.
However, signs at the early stage are often not specific. How to identify brain cancer at the initial stage is the most significant problem. The most common symptoms of brain cancer are weakness, nausea, and vomiting. However, these symptoms accompany almost every disease. That’s why brain cancer is often found already in the late stages when the tumor is hard to treat.
What doctor can diagnose brain cancer?
Most often brain cancer can be detected by neurologists, during planned examinations or after patients’ complaints about a headache. An ophthalmologist can also suspect brain tumor by checking intracranial pressure.
The high hormone level in the blood may indicate brain cancer, especially a tumor in the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. These parts of the brain control the hormone level in the blood.
In the case of brain tumor assumption, a neurologist begins to study the medical records of a patient and carry out neurological studies that may indicate abnormalities in the work of the brain departments. A patient passes tests for reading, arithmetic, checking for equilibration and memory.
Neurological examination includes tests and procedures to check the human nerves, feelings, muscle strength, reflexes, balance and mental state. The primary goal of the neurological diagnostics is helping a doctor to determine causes of the symptoms.
Brain cancer diagnostics at the early stage
The primary diagnostic technique for detecting brain cancer at early stages is tomography and its kinds such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET). These methods allow to scan the brain, detect and study the tumor in detail.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the most preferred method. It is characterized by high sensitivity and allows obtaining detailed images of the brain in high resolution. It registers even the smallest structural changes. The research includes:
- magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS);
- functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI);
- Optical coherence tomography (OCT).
There are various modern methods of MRI fixing functional disorders of the brain affected area.
Computed tomography (CT) is a very informative method for detecting brain cancer. The technique gives a 3-dimensional image of the brain structure and reveals various grows. CT allows determining the circulatory disturbance of the brain accompanying the tumor creating process.
Positron emission tomography (PET-CT) reveals areas metabolic activity areas of malignant grows.
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is used to check the work processes of the brain parts.
MRI angiography provides an accurate diagnostics of cerebral blood flow and is used to plan the surgical removal of a tumor characterized by active blood supply.
Spinal puncture. Cerebrospinal fluid is taken for examination of the cancer cells and some tumor markers presence.
The biopsy is the type of laboratory studies of tumor tissue on specific genes, proteins and other factors, like oncomarkers. Often, morphological diagnosis can be difficult to conduct due to the localization of the tumor. Biopsy (sometimes stereotactic biopsy under computer control) can be performed as a separate diagnostic procedure and during a neurosurgical operation.
The molecular genetic test determines the disorders in the structure of 1p and 19q chromosomes for the oligodendroma and methylation of the MGMT promoter for glioblastomas. It helps to determine if the current method of therapy is suitable for a patient.
Tips for brain cancer detection at the initial stage
1) A patient should visit a doctor if faces such symptoms as a headache, nystagmus, visual impairment, nausea, vomiting without relief, etc.).
2) Neurologist or neurosurgeon will provide examinations and make an accurate diagnosis.
3) The 1st step of the diagnostics is the consultation with an ophthalmologist. If during the examination an ophthalmologist detects changes in the disc of the optic nerve and the fundus, which are characteristic for grows in the head, s/he will provide you with head scan (CT or MRI scan).
4) Tomography helps a specialist to find out more about the tumor, its size, and location. If cancer is detected, a patient is referred to a neuro-oncologist.
5) Neuro-oncologist develops a treatment plan and prescribes additional diagnostic procedures (if necessary).