Screening for a brain tumor usually begins as soon as symptoms develop. Usually a neurologist, oncologist or neuro-oncologist confirms the presence of a tumor by noting the patient’s symptoms, reviewing the family history, conducting a neurological exam and analyzing other tests.
Tests for a Brain Tumor
A neurological exam is the first test conducted to check reflexes, strength,coordination control of facial movements, vision and level of awareness. Imaging tests can help confirm the growth by allowing doctors to visualize the tumor and help determine the best treatment. Some imaging scans employ the use of a special dye to help highlight structures in the brain. Among imaging scans that may be prescribed are x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scan, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), angiogram, myelogram, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), and positron emission tomography (PET).
Another test sometimes used for diagnosing a brain tumor is the lumbar puncture, more commonly known as a spinal tap. The procedure measures pressure in the fluid that surrounds the spine and the brain. Tests of the fluid can reveal infections and other problems.
To check for cancer cells, the doctor will obtain a biopsy of the brain tumor by removing a sample of the tissue. The results will help determine the best course of treatment. In some cases, a biopsy is performed after the tumor is removed surgically.