Removing Brain Tumors
MALIGNANT VS. BENIGN TUMORS: More than 44,500 people in the United Stated are diagnosed with a tumor in the brain or spine every year. Some brain tumors are cancerous, while others are not. Primary brain tumors, which begin in the brain, can be benign or malignant, and both can be life-threatening. There are more than 126 different types of primary brain tumors, complicating methods for effective treatment. To determine whether or not a tumor is benign or malignant depends on the classification of the tumors' behavior and characteristics of its cells. Malignant tumors are considered cancerous and two of the most common forms are metastatic brain tumors (brain metastases) and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Benign tumors, on the other hand, are not considered cancerous. However, some benign brain tumors can develop into cancer later, but reasons for this are unknown.
Brain tumors are the second most common form of cancer in children and make up about 25 percent of all pediatric cancers. Over 3,400 children are diagnosed every year in the United States, and about 2,600 of those children will be under the age of 15. Sadly, brain tumors are the leading cause of solid tumor cancer death in children.
DANGERS OF BRAIN SURGERY: Craniotomies and other traditional brain surgeries are delicate operations and the possibility of complications afterward are high. During a craniotomy, an incision is made through a shaved area of the scalp and a portion of the skull is removed temporarily. Using a microsurgical technique, the tumor is removed. Tumors located centrally in the brain pose more of a danger, because doctors must go through normal structures in the brain to actually remove them. Surgery on certain areas of the brain may cause problems with speech, memory, muscle weakness, balance, vision, coordination and other functions. Blood clots, bleeding on the brain, seizures, stroke, coma, infections and brain swelling are also possible risks of brain surgery.
NEW, IMPROVED METHOD?: This new neuro-endoscopic procedure involves using an endoscope to see the natural cavity of the brain and visualize the colloid cyst or tumor while removing the benign tumor from deep within the brain. Tiny incisions and openings, no larger than a pea, are made on the forehead into the skull. The endoscope is six millimeters in diameter, and one- to two-millimeter instruments are used to remove the colloid cysts completely. In addition to removing the tumor, surgeons are able to make new pathways for the cerebrospinal fluid to flow freely, so no shunts are needed to drain excess fluid. This minimally invasive procedure has a minimal morbidity rate and high patient satisfaction. Patients are able to leave the hospital within 48 to 72 hours and can resume their normal activities in life in about one to two weeks.
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