Brain Tumor FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Can brain cancer be cured?

Yes, thanks to advancement in the field of neurosurgery such as stereotactic radiosurgery, intraoperative imaging technology, and precise navigational equipment for brain surgery, it is possible to cure brain tumors. The Miami Neuroscience Center is equipped with a variety of treatment options to cure brain tumors including stereotactic radiosurgery (radiation therapy), brain tumor resection (craniotomies), and chemotherapy.

What type of doctors treat brain cancer?

If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you will have a multidisciplinary team comprised of several medical specialists. These may include a neurologist, an oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a physical therapist, a dietician, and counselor. If you are seeking brain cancer treatment in Miami, the brain tumor doctors at the Miami Neuroscience Center at Larkin have treated thousands of patients with brain tumors and are well equipped for your care.

Why perform awake brain surgery?

The brain is the most complex organ of the body and its functions are unique to each person. During brain tumor resection our neurosurgeons are extremely careful not to damage any functions of the brain in the areas surrounding the brain tumor. An awake brain surgery is sometimes desirable because the neurosurgeon is able to assess in real-time how the removal of tissue will affect your speech, vision, and movement.

Does awake brain surgery hurt?

The prospect of being awake during brain tumor surgery may seem scary but it is actually painless and in some cases the best treatment option. Awake brain surgery is painless because the grey and white matter of the brain does not have sensory nerve fibers (nociceptors) that process pain. Rather, the brain processes sensory stimuli (signals) received through axons from other areas of the body. During a craniotomy, our anesthesiologist will numb the skin above the area of the skull that is to be removed so you do not feel pain. The neurosurgeon may even elect that you are asleep during the beginning and end of the procedure but awake during the resection so you can provide motor and cognitive feedback.

How many people are diagnosed with brain cancer each year?

Around 80,000 children and adults are diagnosed each year with a primary brain tumor.

What is the life expectancy for someone with a brain tumor?

Usually, the life expectancy of someone who has brain cancer is described as the percentage of people who are still alive five years after being diagnosed with a tumor. The survival rate for brain tumors decrease as an individual ages and the more malignant or aggressive the tumor. The overall 5-year survival rate for malignant tumors is 35.8% compared to 91.5% for non-malignant tumors. To learn more about the sruvival rate for malignant and nonmalignant brain tumors click here.

What are brain lesions?

Brain lesions are abnormal masses that grow within the brain due to injury, infection, or neurological diseases (such as AVM and Brain Tumors). Some types of brain lesions including benign, malignant, vascular, and plaques.

What is a metastatic brain tumor?

Brain metastases or secondary brain tumors are cancer cells that have spread from primary tumors in other areas of the body and are now growing in the brain. The lungs, breast, and skin are the most common primary sites for brain metastases. It is estimated that 15% of brain cancer sufferers in the US have brain metastases. To learn about the differences between primary and secondary tumors click here.

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

The most common symptoms of brain tumors are headaches and seizures. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting due to intracranial pressure. For a full list of symptoms click here.

Can vertigo be a sign of a brain tumor?

Yes, vertigo can be a sign of a brain tumor that is putting pressure on areas of the brain that control balance and coordination. For example, acoustic neuromas grow on the vestibular nerve between the brain and the ear which can cause imbalance, dizziness, and vertigo.

Are brain tumors hereditary?

The majority of brain tumors are not hereditary. Although some hereditary syndromes such as tuberous sclerosis and neurofibromatosis have been linked to certain types of brain tumors. In Gliomas, for example, only about 5% are believed to be hereditary. Still much research is needed to better understand the causes and risk factors of brain cancer.

What gene mutations cause spine and brain tumors?

Mutated GeneTypes of Cancer
NF 1Schwannomas
NF 2Acoustic Neuromas
TSC1 and TSC2Low -grade astrocytomas
Benign brain tumors

Can cell phones cause brain cancer?

Several years of studies have revealed conflicting results about this issue. Currently, there is very limited evidence to support the notion that cell phones can cause brain cancer. 

How fast can a brain tumor form?

The speed of brain tumor growth depends on how aggressive the grade of the tumor is. Grade IV Glioblastomas can grow 1.4% in one day, whereas grade I tumors grow slowly and are unlikely to spread.

Is a brain tumor always cancerous?

Not all brain tumors are cancerous. Malignant tumors are cancerous. These are tumors can grow and spread rapidly. Benign tumors, on the other hand, are non-cancerous.