Brain Cancer

Few medical conditions are as frightening as brain cancer, and beating brain cancer is not easy. But it’s not impossible.Today your chances of surviving are greater than ever before.

What is Brain Cancer?

When cancer starts in your brain, it’s called a primary brain tumor. Cancer that starts elsewhere in your body and spreads to your brain is a metastatic (or secondary) brain tumor.

Some brain tumors are benign (non-cancerous). But they are still considered a serious medical condition. Without treatment, benign brain tumors can cause debilitating symptoms.

There are many kinds of primary brain tumors, including:

  • Gliomas are the most common. They develop in the supportive (“gluey”) tissue of the brain. This tissue, called “glia,” helps to keep the neurons in place and functioning well.
  • Meningiomas grow in the membrane surrounding your brain and spinal cord. Most are benign.
  • Acoustic neuromas are benign tumors that grow on the nerve that runs from your inner ear to the brain.
  • Pineal tumors grow on the pineal gland within the brain. This gland creates hormones like melatonin.
  • Pituitary tumors grow in or near the pituitary gland at the base of your brain. This gland produces hormones that regulate the ovaries, testes, thyroid and other glands.

Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary tumors. Any cancer can spread to the brain, but certain types are more likely to do so. These include melanoma and breast, colon and lung cancer.

The sooner you catch brain cancer, the better your chances of curing it. Tell your doctor as soon as you notice unusual neurological symptoms. These include new or severe headaches, trouble seeing or speaking, personality changes or balance problems.

Brain Cancer Treatment at Mercy

Mercy treats most primary and metastatic brain cancer, including rare or aggressive tumors. Equally important, we treat our patients with warmth, compassion and respect.

Your treatment strategy will depend on several factors. These include the type, size and location of your brain tumor. Your doctor may recommend you have one or more kinds of treatment, including:

  • Medication, including chemotherapy, targeted therapy or immunotherapy.
  • Radiation therapy. Whenever possible, Mercy uses advanced radiation techniques that target your tumor while sparing healthy brain tissue. This includes stereotactic radiosurgery.
  • Surgery to remove as much of your brain tumor as possible.

Some Mercy locations also offer a new treatment for glioblastoma multiforme tumors. It pairs chemotherapy with a wearable device that creates an electric field around the brain. Together, they help slow or stop cancer cells from multiplying.

Many other new treatments for brain cancer are being tested by researchers. You may have access to experimental therapies through clinical trials. Your care team can help you consider your options, including clinical trials offered by Mercy or research organizations like Cancer Research for the Ozarks.

Throughout your journey, you’ll find an abundance of care and support. Whether you need a skilled neurosurgeon or a dose of reassurance, you can take comfort knowing your Mercy team will provide it.

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