||The first step
in diagnosing brain cancer is to have a specialist evaluate the symptoms
and checking your medical history. If there is any sign that it might
just be a brain tumor, an assortment of tests are done to confirm the
diagnosis, this may consist of a complete neurological examination,
imaging tests, and biopsy. Explore this section of the site to learn
about the different ways to diagnose brain cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging, MRI, is a radiology technique which uses magnetism, radio wave, and a computer to produce images of the brain from different angles. It can detect swelling of the brain tissue and bleeding (hemorrhage). The patient is placed on a moving bed, then placed the MRI scanner ( a tube surrounded by a giant circular magnet). Sometimes a dye is injected to improve the contrast between an abnormal mass and normal tissue. The image produced is quite detailed and can detect tiny changes of structure within the brain.
Positron emission tomography, PET, is a imaging technique to determine the metabolic activity of cells in the human body. It is informative, because it shows the actual body function. An injection of radioactive material (radiotracer) into the bloodstream of a patient. Then the PET scanner is used to precisely locate a tumor and distinguish a metastic and recurrent brain cancer at an early stage. After this, a computer is used to translate the information into functional images. This procedure is also used to show how a tumor responses to chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Computerized tomography, CAT or CT scan, is an X-ray technique that constructs a more detailed image of the brain. First, a dye is injected into the body in order to create a more detailed difference between the tumor and normal tissue. Then, the patient is placed inside the CAT scanner, a large round x-ray machine, so that the x-rays will be taken at many various angles. These images will then be processed by a computer with the aim of producing cross-sectional pictures of the brain. The pictures can show where a tumor is located, and sometimes the pictures can help make out what kind of tumor it is.
Biopsy is a surgical way to find a diagnosis of a brain tumor. First, usually a local or anesthesia is used to produce a pain free procedure. Then, a small part of the tumor tissue is taken out and sent to a lab to be examined. There are many different ways to remove the tissue. Some of these include a needle biopsy, open biopsy, or closed biopsy. Each of these has a different procedure to acquire the tissue. This method of diagnosing a brain tumor has shown to be quite accurate.