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Brain Tumours

Brain tumours are growths of abnormal cells which develop on or within the brain. They can present at any age and the diagnosis is distressing to the patient, general practitioner and their relatives.

Adelaide neurosurgeon, Dr Andrew Zacest can provide a rapid assessment service to discuss the diagnosis, your concerns and treatment options available including biopsy, craniotomy and radiosurgery and collaborates with multidisciplinary colleagues.

Symptoms of brain tumours

Any brain tumour, whether benign or malignant, has the potential to grow and block blood flow to parts of the brain. As different areas of the brain are responsible for various functions, brain tumours can have highly varied symptoms. Depending on its location, these symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained nausea
  • Vision and/or hearing problems
  • Loss of sensation and/or movement in a limb
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Decreases in cognitive function
  • Personality changes
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Causes of brain tumours

There are currently no known lifestyle or environmental factors known to increase a patient’s likelihood of developing brain tumours with the exception of prior radiation therapy.

Note that while some factors may influence a brain tumour’s development, they do not directly cause it. Examples of these include:

  • Exposure to carcinogens
  • Exposure to certain viruses (such as the Epstein-Barr virus)
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Family history of brain tumours
  • History of seizures
  • Inherited syndromes (such as neurofibromatosis, von Hippel-Lau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, etc.)

Types of brain tumours

There are more than 120 different types of brain tumour, defined according the tissue they develop from. Potential areas for development are any part of the brain and skull, including the brain stem, sinus cavities, underside of the brain, and surrounding protective membranes.

Meningioma makes up over 30% of brain tumour cases[1]. Originating in the meninges – the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord – these tumours are typically noncancerous and have a slow growth rate, meaning a ‘watch and wait’ approach may be recommended before intervention is necessary.

Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumour in adults and is responsible for 47.7% of malignant brain tumour cases[2]. A type of glioma – meaning it originates from a glial cell – glioblastomas have a tendency to diffuse and spread throughout the brain. They are fast growing, typically malignant, and can return even following surgical removal and intensive treatment.

Schwannoma is a type of brain tumour in adults, arising along nerves and comprised of cells which typically insulate them. While typically benign, they can cause serious complications as they grow and impact nerve function. Acoustic neuroma is a relatively common example of this.

Diagnosing brain tumours

Adelaide Neurosurgeon Dr Andrew Zacest provides rapid assessment and diagnostic services for brain tumours. This typically involves coordination with your general practitioner and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for treatment.

An MRI scan of the head is generally the first step in identifying a brain tumour. Performed with or without a contrast dye injection, this can identify malformations in the brain and determine their size and impacts. A functional MRI or perfusion MRI may also be ordered to clearly identify and evaluate the tumour.

A stereotactic brain biopsy may then be used to collect a sample of tumour cells under general anaesthesia, allowing them to be examined by pathology. This can determine the type and grade of the tumour, permitting proper planning of treatment.

Treatment options available for brain tumours

Surgery is typically the first line of treatment for brain tumours as it can effectively manage the tumour in a single procedure in many cases. However, it may not always be the recommendation if there is a high risk of lasting complications. Dr Zacest will always personally assess your health and likelihood of neurological complications before performing a procedure.

If recommended, surgical treatments may include:

  • Craniotomy – this surgical procedure involves opening the skull to remove part or all of a brain tumour. Dr Andrew Zacest may perform craniotomy to treat meningioma, glioblastoma, metastasis, and other types of brain tumour.

Other treatments may be offered in conjunction with or instead of brain tumour removal surgery, particularly if the tumour is cancerous or surgery is unlikely to be curative. These may include:

  • Chemotherapy – this may be prescribed to help reduce the tumour’s size before surgery to decrease its chances of redeveloping after surgery. Dr Andrew Zacest may work with another healthcare provider to provide this service.
  • Radiation therapy – targeted radiation is delivered to the brain tumour over multiple treatments, aiming to reduce the tumour’s size or kill it completely. It may be combined with chemotherapy or surgery for effective treatment.
  • Radiosurgery – this highly focused therapy works to damage the tumour’s DNA, causing it to shrink. It is not surgery in the traditional sense as it does not involve making any incisions, instead using 3D imaging to precisely target the tumour with high doses of radiation.
  • Palliative support – this may be recommended to reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life if curative treatment is not an option. It can include chemotherapy and other drug therapies with the goal to minimise discomfort in day-to-day life.

Adelaide Neurosurgeon offers consultation, treatment and second opinions from his rooms at the Calvary Adelaide Hospital. Ask your GP for a referral to Dr Andrew Zacest today.

[1] Hopkins Medicine, n.d.

[2] American Association of Neurological Surgeons, n.d.

Brain Tumours

Brain tumours are growths of abnormal cells which develop on or within the brain. They can present at any age and the diagnosis is distressing to the patient, general practitioner and their relatives.

Adelaide neurosurgeon, Dr Andrew Zacest can provide a rapid assessment service to discuss the diagnosis, your concerns and treatment options available including biopsy, craniotomy and radiosurgery and collaborates with multidisciplinary colleagues.

Symptoms of brain tumours

Any brain tumour, whether benign or malignant, has the potential to grow and block blood flow to parts of the brain. As different areas of the brain are responsible for various functions, brain tumours can have highly varied symptoms. Depending on its location, these symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained nausea
  • Vision and/or hearing problems
  • Loss of sensation and/or movement in a limb
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Decreases in cognitive function
  • Personality changes
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Forgetfulness
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control

Causes of brain tumours

There are currently no known lifestyle or environmental factors known to increase a patient’s likelihood of developing brain tumours with the exception of prior radiation therapy.

Note that while some factors may influence a brain tumour’s development, they do not directly cause it. Examples of these include:

  • Exposure to carcinogens
  • Exposure to certain viruses (such as the Epstein-Barr virus)
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Family history of brain tumours
  • History of seizures
  • Inherited syndromes (such as neurofibromatosis, von Hippel-Lau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, etc.)

Types of brain tumours

There are more than 120 different types of brain tumour, defined according the tissue they develop from. Potential areas for development are any part of the brain and skull, including the brain stem, sinus cavities, underside of the brain, and surrounding protective membranes.

Meningioma makes up over 30% of brain tumour cases[1]. Originating in the meninges – the membranes which surround the brain and spinal cord – these tumours are typically noncancerous and have a slow growth rate, meaning a ‘watch and wait’ approach may be recommended before intervention is necessary.

Glioblastoma is the most common primary brain tumour in adults and is responsible for 47.7% of malignant brain tumour cases[2]. A type of glioma – meaning it originates from a glial cell – glioblastomas have a tendency to diffuse and spread throughout the brain. They are fast growing, typically malignant, and can return even following surgical removal and intensive treatment.

Schwannoma is a type of brain tumour in adults, arising along nerves and comprised of cells which typically insulate them. While typically benign, they can cause serious complications as they grow and impact nerve function. Acoustic neuroma is a relatively common example of this.

Diagnosing brain tumours

Adelaide Neurosurgeon Dr Andrew Zacest provides rapid assessment and diagnostic services for brain tumours. This typically involves coordination with your general practitioner and other healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for treatment.

An MRI scan of the head is generally the first step in identifying a brain tumour. Performed with or without a contrast dye injection, this can identify malformations in the brain and determine their size and impacts. A functional MRI or perfusion MRI may also be ordered to clearly identify and evaluate the tumour.

A stereotactic brain biopsy may then be used to collect a sample of tumour cells under general anaesthesia, allowing them to be examined by pathology. This can determine the type and grade of the tumour, permitting proper planning of treatment.

Treatment options available for brain tumours

Surgery is typically the first line of treatment for brain tumours as it can effectively manage the tumour in a single procedure in many cases. However, it may not always be the recommendation if there is a high risk of lasting complications. Dr Zacest will always personally assess your health and likelihood of neurological complications before performing a procedure.

If recommended, surgical treatments may include:

  • Craniotomy – this surgical procedure involves opening the skull to remove part or all of a brain tumour. Dr Andrew Zacest may perform craniotomy to treat meningioma, glioblastoma, metastasis, and other types of brain tumour.

Other treatments may be offered in conjunction with or instead of brain tumour removal surgery, particularly if the tumour is cancerous or surgery is unlikely to be curative. These may include:

  • Chemotherapy – this may be prescribed to help reduce the tumour’s size before surgery to decrease its chances of redeveloping after surgery. Dr Andrew Zacest may work with another healthcare provider to provide this service.
  • Radiation therapy – targeted radiation is delivered to the brain tumour over multiple treatments, aiming to reduce the tumour’s size or kill it completely. It may be combined with chemotherapy or surgery for effective treatment.
  • Radiosurgery – this highly focused therapy works to damage the tumour’s DNA, causing it to shrink. It is not surgery in the traditional sense as it does not involve making any incisions, instead using 3D imaging to precisely target the tumour with high doses of radiation.
  • Palliative support – this may be recommended to reduce symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life if curative treatment is not an option. It can include chemotherapy and other drug therapies with the goal to minimise discomfort in day-to-day life.

Adelaide Neurosurgeon offers consultation, treatment and second opinions from his rooms at the Calvary Adelaide Hospital. Ask your GP for a referral to Dr Andrew Zacest today.

[1] Hopkins Medicine, n.d.

[2] American Association of Neurological Surgeons, n.d.