ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) — While finding any tumor can be upsetting, the discovery of a brain tumor has always been especially tough for a patient to hear.
But, experts are reiterating such a diagnosis, isn’t necessarily a death sentence.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are more than 700,000 Americans living with a brain tumor.
“Being diagnosed as having a brain tumor is not immediately ‘my life is going to end’,” said Dr. Fredric Meyer, Mayo Clinic Enterprise Chair of Neurologic Surgery.
Tumors can affect people of any age, gender, or race and while a family history of brain tumors is an increased risk factor, what actually causes brain tumors is not clear.
“But all of a sudden your headache is changing it’s nature,” said Meyer. “All of a sudden you might have trouble talking or maybe some weakness in an arm or a leg, or a little uncoordinated, or a little stumbling. Any of those symptoms should prompt an appointment with your family doctor.”
An MRI or CAT scan can help confirm if a brain tumor is causing those problems.
“There’s many brain tumors that are benign, which can be removed at low risk and provide a long term cure,” said Meyer. “There’s also malignant tumors that we treat aggressively at Mayo Clinic. We have groups of patients who live for very meaningful times of life with high quality life, if not curing a malignant tumor.”
Whether the tumor is cancerous or not, there are a wide range of treatment options that help give patients a better chance. Dr. Meyer says specialists at Mayo Clinic work together to give each patient an individualized treatment plan to treat their tumors.
“When I talk about clinical trials for brain tumors, it’s not just radiation therapy protocols but it’s also immunotherapy, it’s viral therapy, it’s stem cell therapies,” said Meyer. “The concept here is to take the genetics of a tumor and to use it in a manipulative way to kill tumor cells.”
For more information about brain tumors, click here.