What to Expect After a Brain Tumor Diagnosis

What to Expect After a Brain Tumor DiagnosisHave you just discovered that you have a brain tumor based on an MRI of a brain tumor? You're not the only one.

Research shows that at least 700,000 Americans in 2022 had primary brain tumors (growths that started in their brains). Head injuries and seizures are common causes of brain tumors. Other causes include exposure to pesticides and oil products.

What can you expect following a brain tumor diagnosis after undergoing MRI for a brain tumor or a CT scan for a brain tumor? Let's explore how these brain tests work and the next steps.

What Is an MRI for a Brain Tumor?

MRI is also known as magnetic resonance imaging. It involves using radio waves from a computer and a strong magnetic field to produce images of your body's tissues and organs.

This brain tumor test is one of the most effective and reliable ones since it displays the brain in greater detail than other body imaging tests. Your doctor may suggest MRI if you're experiencing the following types of brain tumor symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Memory loss
  • Bladder control issues
  • Trouble walking

A medical professional will inject dye into an arm vein before the MRI procedure. This will help the medical care team distinguish healthy tissue from a tumor.

An MRI of a Brain Tumor

What does an MRI of a brain tumor look like? It depends on variables like the tumor's size, location, and type (more on types of tumors later).

Some tumors look like growths or masses. Others look more spread out over a broad area.

CT Scan for a Brain Tumor

Your doctor may also use a computed tomography (CT) scan to diagnose a brain tumor. The test captures several views of your brain using X-rays. This will allow your doctor to find your tumor's size and location.

After the MRI or CT Scan Diagnosis

What should you do after you've been diagnosed with a brain tumor? Learn about your medical condition as soon as possible.

Your doctor can explain your brain tumor type and treatment options (more on this later). This will help you make informed medical decisions. Learning about tumors may also give you peace of mind since you'll know what to anticipate.

Types of Brain Tumors

There are two types of brain tumors: benign and malignant. Benign tumors are noncancerous tumors. They don't spread to other tissues or areas of patients' bodies.

Malignant tumors contain cancerous cells. These cells may metastasize, or spread, to other sections of the body or brain.

Cancerous tumors usually grow more uncontrollably and rapidly than benign ones. They often spread through a patient's lymphatic system or blood. The lymphatic system is a vessel network through which your lymph (a fluid with white blood cells) drains into your blood from your tissues.

Brain tumors are serious even if they're benign. That's because these tumors place pressure on the brain, affecting the brain's ability to function.

A brain tumor may be secondary or primary. Primary tumors begin in patients' brains. Secondary ones begin in other body parts but spread to patients' brains.

Glioblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumors. Meningiomas are the most common non-malignant tumors.

A glioblastoma starts from a cell called an astrocyte, which supports and nourishes the brain's nerve cells. This aggressive tumor invades and destroys the healthy tissue surrounding it.

A meningioma grows from the membranes surrounding your spinal cord and brain. These membranes are called meninges.

Meningiomas may squeeze nearby blood vessels, nerves, and tissue. They begin in the spinal cord or brain.

Get Another Opinion

Consider getting a second medical opinion after you've been diagnosed with a brain tumor through MRI. This is essential for several reasons.

Getting another opinion will protect you from misdiagnosis. It may also clarify a complex brain tumor diagnosis. Speaking with another doctor may help you better understand the various treatment methods available, too.

Dealing With Insurance

Insurance may be a significant concern as you grapple with your tumor diagnosis. A reputable care team can help you explore your health insurance coverage.

Let's say you go to an in-network treatment center. This center has a formal relationship with your healthcare insurance company. The insurer may cover specific treatments and diagnoses even if you use a surgeon outside your insurance network (more on surgery later).

What if you choose an out-of-network provider? This doctor doesn't have a formal relationship with your insurer.

The provider might charge you higher rates than an in-network doctor, and your insurer might not pay them. This means receiving care from an out-of-network provider may be more expensive than choosing an in-network provider.

Brain Tumor Treatments

Your doctor will create a treatment plan based on your tumor's location, type, and size. Five treatment options are available:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Clinical trials

Surgery is recommended for large, easily accessible tumors. Your doctor may require you to undergo chemotherapy or radiation (we'll talk about these next) if they're worried that tumor cells may remain in your brain following surgery.

Chemotherapy involves using medicine to eradicate your tumor. It's commonly prescribed for treating malignant brain growth.

Radiation therapy is another standard brain tumor treatment option. It involves giving your brain low radiation doses to destroy your growth.

Clinical trials are another popular brain tumor treatment option. A trial will let you try a new medication to see if it will treat your brain more effectively than radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery.

Seeking Support

Find a support group to guide you through your brain tumor recovery process. The group will give you a confidential, convenient, and safe space to share and navigate your feelings with people experiencing the same health challenges.

Help After Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Have you received a brain tumor diagnosis through MRI for a brain tumor? Consider seeking a second opinion. Another MRI or a CT scan for a brain tumor may help confirm the first diagnosis to guard against misdiagnosis.

Your doctor can show you an MRI of a brain tumor, explain how brain tumors develop, and outline your treatment options. Working with a support group may make navigating the treatment process easier.

At the CT Brain Tumor Alliance, we offer support and hope to brain tumor caregivers and patients. Join our group's mailing list (see below) to learn more, and partner with us today!


All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only and nothing herein shall be construed as medical advice.  Always consult your medical provider for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any medical decisions.  

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