Dr. Andrew Little Discusses Brain Tumors on ABC15 Sonoran Living

Dr. Andrew Little

Dr. Andrew Little discussing brain tumors with Susan Casper at ABC15 Sonoran Living.

Brain tumors are a serious subject. Dr. Andrew Little, Neurosurgeon at Barrow Brain and Spine will walk us through how to handle a brain tumor diagnosis. 

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Q: How are brain tumors diagnosed?

A: Most people visit their primary care doctor with a list of symptoms. The symptoms of a brain tumor depend on tumor size, type, and location. Symptoms may be caused when a tumor presses on a nerve or harms a part of the brain. Also, they may be caused when a tumor blocks the fluid that flows through and around the brain, or when the brain swells because of the buildup of fluid.

Q: What are the most common symptoms of brain tumors?

A: Symptoms can vary depending on what type of tumor it is. They range from:

 

  • Headaches (usually worse in the morning)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in speech, vision, or hearing
  • Problems balancing or walking
  • Changes in mood, personality, or ability to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • Muscle jerking or twitching (seizures or convulsions)
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

Most often, these symptoms are not due to a brain tumor. Another health problem could cause them. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated.

If you have symptoms that suggest a brain tumor, your doctor will give you a physical exam and ask about your personal and family health history. You may have one or more of the following tests:

  • A neurologic exam to check your vision, hearing, alertness, muscle strength, coordination, and reflexes.
  • They may request an MRI, CT or Angiogram. If a tumor is present, the x-ray may show the tumor or blood vessels that are feeding into the tumor.

Q: What kind of treatment options are out there for brain tumors?

A: There are several treatment options for brain tumors. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people get a combination of treatments. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the following:

  • The type and grade of brain tumor
  • Its location in the brain
  • Its size
  • Your age and general health

Q: Why type of doctor treats brain tumors?

A: Helping patients with brain tumor requires a team. The leader of the team is usually a neurosurgeon. Depending on the tumor type, other team members include an oncologist, radiation oncologist and endocrinologist.

Q: What kinds of things should I ask my doctor when I am diagnosed with a brain tumor?

A: Here are some questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • How experienced are you treating my type of brain tumor?
  • What type of brain tumor do I have?
  • Is it benign or malignant?
  • What is the grade of the tumor?
  • What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me?
  • What are the expected benefits of each kind of treatment?
  • What can I do to prepare for treatment?
  • Will I need to stay in the hospital? If so, for how long?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of each treatment? How can side effects be managed?
  • How will treatment affect my normal activities?
  • Can you recommend other doctors who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?
  • How often should I have checkups?

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