Diagnosing brain and nervous system cancer

Brain and nervous system cancer doesn't strike often—less than one percent of men and women in the U.S. will develop a cancerous brain or spinal cord tumor during their lifetime. But when it does strike, it requires an accurate diagnosis so it can be treated quickly and effectively.

State-of-the-art diagnostic tools

Our cancer specialists use many tools to diagnose brain and nervous system cancer. These tests include:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scan imaging.

  • Positron Emission Tomograph (PET) imaging.

  • Stereotactic biopsy

  • Genetic analysis and sequencing of biopsy material

Staging brain and nervous tumors

If you are diagnosed with a brain or nervous system tumor, your doctor will need to "stage" it (see how advanced it is) and determine whether it is benign or malignant. Staging is finding out how much cancer is in your body and where it's located. This helps doctors plan treatment options and assess your outlook (prognosis). He or she will also need to confirm whether your cancer started in the brain, or if it has spread to your brain from another part of the body.

Your treatments are based on several factors, including the type of cancer, its size and location, your symptoms and your overall health.

Learn more about brain and nervous system cancer treatment options at The Christ Hospital Health Network.