global view constructed of white lines
Symptoms & Treatment of Brain Tumors
June 8, 2023

Symptoms & Treatment of Brain Tumors

by Brianna Rauchman

Neuro-oncologist, Akanksha Sharma, MD, explains common symptoms of brain tumors and highlights the wide range of medical specialties that provide accessible brain tumor treatments. Plus, discover how Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI) supports the brain tumor community.

Brain tumors are uncommon, impacting only 1% of the population. However, brain cancer stands as the 10th major contributor to cancer-related fatalities across all age groups, demographics, and genders.

Understanding your risk for a brain tumor, as well as the facts, symptoms, and available treatment, can help ensure the livelihood of yourself and your loved ones.

Common Symptoms of Brain Tumors

Symptoms of a brain tumor vary based on its location. Both benign and malignant brain tumors may present similar symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Weakness or numbness in areas such as the arms, legs, or face
  • Behavior and personality changes
  • Blurry vision
  • Speech and hearing problems
  • Paralysis
  • Other neurologic impairment

Note: Headache is one of the most common symptom of a brain tumor, and may be caused by brain swelling and bleeding, as well as pressure from a tumor pressing on the brain. Headaches are most common in the morning among brain cancer patients.

How common are brain tumors?

Brain tumors impact 700,000 people in the United States at any given time. This year alone, there will be 90,000 new diagnoses, 71% of which will be non-cancerous or benign, and 29% of which will be cancerous.

What is the difference between a benign brain tumor and a malignant brain tumor?

Benign brain tumors are non-cancerous growths that do not spread to other parts of the body. They typically have well-defined borders and are often considered less aggressive than malignant brain tumors. On the other hand, malignant brain tumors are cancerous growths that can invade surrounding tissues. The relative survival rate for individuals living with a malignant brain tumor is approximately 35.7%, indicating the percentage of people who are still alive after a certain period of time following diagnosis.

Are brain tumors common in children?

In children under fourteen years of age, brain tumors are the leading cause of death by cancer, accounting for nearly 4,000 new diagnoses annually in the United States.

Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors in children. Approximately 4,000 children and adolescents in the US are diagnosed with primary brain tumors each year. Primary brain tumors start in the brain and generally do not spread outside the brain tissue. Most central nervous system cancers are brain tumors. In children under the age of fourteen, brain tumors are the leading cause of death by cancer.

Celebrating the Brain Tumor Community at PNI

During Brain Tumor Awareness Month in May, Pacific Neuroscience Institute (PNI) supported the brain tumor community through virtual and in-person events focused on gratitude, wellness and mindfulness. Webinars provided by expert life coaches, Project Ronin, Saint John’s Cancer Support Services, as well as patients living with brain tumors offered valuable resources for navigating a challenging diagnosis and coping with traumatic loss.

Brain tumor community event at Pacific Neuroscience Institute.
Neurosurgeon Garni Barkhoudarian, MD, and survivor Wendy
Santana from the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA).

To conclude Brain Tumor Awareness Month at PNI, neurosurgeons and cancer support specialists gathered with the brain tumor community at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica on Wednesday, May 31st, 2023. The day was filled with festivities and celebrations, culminating in a walk around the hospital. The event, which was sponsored by Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Saint John’s Cancer Support Services, brought together individuals dedicated to raising awareness and supporting those affected by brain tumors.

Brain Tumor Awareness Day: Special Guests

Kicking off the Brain Tumor Awareness Day Walk, Director of Neuro-oncology Santosh Kesari, MD, PhD, gave opening remarks on the resiliency of the brain tumor community, followed by meaningful speeches from Neuro-oncologist, Akanksha Sharma, MD, Director of Psycho-oncology, Shanthi Gowrinathan, MD, and Senior Content Writer at Thrive Global, Elaine Lipworth.

KTTV reporter Maria Quiban at the Brain Tumor Awareness Day 2023
Celebrity reporter Maria Quiban signs copies of “You Can’t Do It Alone,”
a supportive guide for those dealing with traumatic loss.

To celebrate the resiliency of the brain tumor community, celebrity reporter Maria Quiban joined Brain Tumor Awareness Day to sign and distribute copies of her book You Can’t Do It Alone, highlighting how she coped with grief after her husband Sean passed from glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Also in attendance was the American Brain Tumor Association (ABTA), the largest non-profit organization in the United States dedicated to providing support services and programs to brain tumor patients. The booth was staffed by Wendy Santana, a brain tumor survivor, patient advocate, and blogger, whose stories about coping with brain cancer have helped numerous survivors feel celebrated, seen, and heard.

Brain Tumor Treatment at PNI

At PNI, our brain tumor team specializes in helping patients to maximize their time and quality of life by aligning treatment with patient goals. We prioritize careful symptom assessment and management, as well as support for the patient’s care partners and loved ones.

Our brain tumor team provides a unique combination of highly specialized and experienced medical professionals, leading-edge technology, and a personalized, compassionate approach that puts our patients first.

We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art care with a focus on minimally invasive surgical and interventional techniques, in addition to novel targeted therapies that aim to restore and maintain quality of life.

Advanced Treatment Options for Brain Tumors

In collaboration with the Saint John’s Cancer Institute, PNI focuses on translational research and clinical trials, as well as fellowship education and continuing medical education. Our physicians work side by side with our scientists to formulate real-time personalized treatments and therapies for our patients ensuring that they are receiving the highest and most advanced levels of care.

Akanksha Sharma, MD, Neil Martin, MD, and Shanti Gowrinathan, MD at the Brain Tumor Awareness Day Walk on May 31st, 2023.
PNI Neuro-oncologist Akanksha Sharma, MD, Neurosurgeon Neil Martin, MD,
and Director of Psycho-oncology Shanthi Gowrinathan, MD.

We aim to provide targeted therapies and advanced treatment options patients may not have elsewhere. Clinical trials, research, and tumor genomic sequencing are essential tools in understanding and treating brain cancer.

We are committed to improving the lives of patients with primary and metastatic brain cancers, as well as other aggressive brain, skull base, and pituitary tumors. In addition, family caregiver quality of life and outcomes research in the brain cancer setting continues to be an area of study.

Pacific Brain Tumor Center

The Pacific Brain Tumor Center is dedicated to providing comprehensive treatment and supportive care for brain tumor patients and their families.

If you or someone you care for has been recently diagnosed with a brain or skull base tumor (benign or malignant) there’s time for you to get another viewpoint. We’ll provide a rapid review of your medical records and imaging and give you our unique perspective on the optimal treatment pathway.

More information: 310-582-7450

Useful Links:

About the Author

Brianna Rauchman

Brianna Rauchman, BA, is the Communications Coordinator for the Lifestyle Program, where she helps develop outreach strategies to connect with an expanding audience. Her responsibilities include providing launch support, developing content, assisting with collateral design, and planning social media strategies.

Last updated: July 21st, 2023