Understanding Brain Tumor Types

Learn about the different types of brain tumors, including glioblastoma, glioma, and pituitary tumors, in this article by Kristine Dziurzynski, MD.

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Kristine Dziurzynski, MD

Learning that you or a loved one may have a brain tumor can be a frightening and confusing experience. You need a team with expertise and compassion to guide you through decision-making, treatment and recovery.

At Lancaster General Health, we provide specialized brain tumor care right here in our local community. We are also connected to the Brain Tumor Center at Penn Medicine, a nationally recognized leader in brain tumor research and treatment.

We diagnose and treat all types of benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) brain tumors. We also have expertise treating metastatic cancer within the brain. Our specialists work with each patient to develop personalized treatment plans that include advanced medical and surgical options from craniotomy (removal of skull section to access the brain) to minimally invasive procedures. We also discuss any clinical trials that may be appropriate.

Most Common Brain Tumor Symptoms

Symptoms of brain tumor include persistent headaches, a seizure, progressive weakness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, or rapidly worsening memory. 

Since headaches are a common occurrence in daily life, talk with your primary care doctor if your headaches:

  • Increase in frequency and intensity over days and weeks
  • Wake you up when asleep
  • Suddenly begin occurring and you have no history of chronic headaches

One headache is not a cause for a concern. Only frequent, continuous, and worsening headaches should be evaluated.

Types of Brain Tumors

A brain tumor forms from an abnormal growth of cells in the brain or from cells that spread to the brain from other parts of the body:

  • A primary brain tumor starts with an abnormal brain cell and grows in the brain.
  • A metastatic (secondary) tumor starts as a cancer in another part of the body (such as the lungs or breast) and then spreads to the brain, where it forms a new tumor.

We provide innovative surgical and non-surgical options for brain tumors of all types, including:

  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Astrocytoma
  • Cranial- or skull-based
  • Ependymoma
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)
  • Glioma
  • Medulloblastoma (adult)
  • Meningioma
  • Metastatic
  • Oligodendroglioma
  • Pituitary
  • Schwannoma
  • Primary CNS Lymphoma (PCNSL)

Advanced Treatment Options

Led by highly trained specialists utilizing proven technology, we offer comprehensive brain tumor treatment options right here in Lancaster. 

Brain Tumor Surgery

The goal of brain tumor surgery is to remove as much of the tumor as possible without affecting normal brain function. Surgery also provides tissue for diagnosis. Our team will evaluate if direct brain surgery is needed or if less invasive treatments are an option. Even if the surgeon removes all the visible cancer at the time of the surgery, you may receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that are left. This reduces the risk that the cancer will come back.

  • Advanced tumor visualization: Gleolan™ (aminolevulinic acid hydrochloride) is one of the newest tools approved for use in glioma brain tumor surgery. It is used by neurosurgeons at Lancaster General Hospital. Also called ALA HCI or 5-ALA, Gleolan is an optical imaging agent that highlights tumor cells with a bright pink-like color, making it easier for our neurosurgeons to target and remove tumor cells during surgery.
Radiation Therapy

Our team uses advanced radiation technology, or high-energy X-rays, to kill brain cancer cells or keep them from growing. 

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat functional abnormalities and small tumors of the brain. It can deliver precisely targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional chemotherapy, helping preserve healthy tissue. Types of this technology include Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and CyberKnife®
Other Treatments Options
  • Optune®, a wearable, portable, FDA-approved device that creates wave-like electric fields to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in adult patients 22 years of age or older. The Optune electric fields are able to slow down or even stop tumor cells from dividing, and my even destroy them. 
  • Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or radiation therapy.

Brain Tumor Clinic: Team of Specialists 

Our brain tumor team is led by medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and neurosurgeons, including Kristine Dziurzynski, MD, a highly trained neurosurgeon who specializes in brain tumor. She is fellowship trained in skull-base surgery, neurosurgical oncology, and brain tumor immunology. 

The brain tumor clinic at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute provides coordinated care for brain tumor patients. A nurse navigator works with each patient to coordinate appointments, medication needs, and medical tests. The brain tumor clinic team holds a weekly tumor board and works together to provide a comprehensive evaluation and treatment plan for each patient.

Brain Tumor Support Group & Cancer Treatment Support 

NOTE: Please call for current status of these support groups due to COVID-19 restrictions.

We typically host brain tumor support groups to provide support and education for anyone diagnosed with a brain tumor or affected by a loved one's experience.

Prior to COVID-19, we have offered two support groups the third Thursday of each month:

Cancer Treatment Support

Our compassionate and experienced oncology support team at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute provides care, guidance, education, and emotional support to empower patients and families. We offer resources and tools to help you address the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges that often accompany a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Learn more by visiting our cancer support services.

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