Brain tumors include a wide range of malignancies with different biological characteristics. They are divided into two groups: benign and malignant tumors, which each have many different sub-types. A diagnosis is based on a thorough analysis that involves imaging, pathological analysis and genetic characterization. Benign tumors grow slowly and are well demarcated from the surrounding brain. In contrast, malignant tumors usually grow faster and show an infiltrative growth pattern into the brain. Read more at kreftlex.no. Advanced imaging technology that shows the localization of the tumor within the brain, is very important in both the diagnostics and treatment. The image to the right shows a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of a brain with a malignant brain tumor (dark area). The image also shows the normal brain areas that control human movement (colors).
The brain is the control center of the human
The brain controls many of the human body’s functions. There are a number of centers located within the brain and these are connected by nerve pathways (nerve fibres). The nerve signals travel through the body and return to the brain. The function of the brain can be affected by both the tumor itself and the treatment. The image shows a brain tumor (red) that lies close to the motor pathways (dark blue) and the visual apparatus (yellow).
We are working towards finding better, more personalized treatment options for all patients with brain tumors.
Benign vs. Malignant tumors
The typical treatment for benign tumors involves regular clinical follow-up. Depending on the tumor type, the strategy may be either; wait-and-see, various types of radiotherapy, or surgery. The treatment choices selected are governed by a number of factors; which include the size, location and growth potential of the tumor. The patient’s symptoms are also an important factor. Treatment of benign tumors can, for some patients, be associated with little risk while for others the tumor may have a growth pattern and a location that requires a combination of different treatment strategies such as a combination of surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
The most common malignant tumors that arise in the brain are called diffuse gliomas. These are derived from glial cells, which are the cells that support neurons. Gliomas are graded based on their pathological characteristics, appearance, growth pattern and genetic changes and range from low grade tumors to high grade (on a scale of 1 to 4). The most common malignant tumor (grade 4) is the glioblastoma. As the name suggests, diffuse gliomas show an infiltrative growth pattern in the brain. This means that a complete removal of the tumor by surgery is very difficult. Current cancer treatments have some effects on gliomas but also has limitations. Although the diffuse gliomas show general similarities, we now know, at the cellular level, that they are biologically different and vary from patient to patient. Our goal is to offer patients with malignant brain tumors personalized treatment that optimizes the outcome of controlling their condition.