Bye Bye Biopsy! Chemicals Diagnosis Cancer



FLORIDA - BACKGROUND:   The causes of brain tumors are unknown.  There are only a few known risk factors.  Children who receive radiation to the head have a greater risk of developing a tumor on the brain when they are adults, as well as people who have rare genetic conditions, like neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni syndrome.  These cases only represent a fraction of the 35,000 new primary brain tumors diagnosed every year.   Age is another risk factor.  People over 65 years are diagnosed with brain cancer at a rate four times higher than younger people.  A primary brain tumor originates in the brain and they are not all cancerous.  A benign tumor is not aggressive, but can be life-threatening.   (Source:

SYMPTOMS:  Symptoms vary according to the type of tumor and location.  Different ares of the brain control different functions of the body, where the tumor is located will affect the symptoms.  Some tumors do not have symptoms. A common symptom is headaches.  Others can include:  seizures, changes in vision, changes in speech, balance problems, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, problems with walking, personality changes, problems with memory, weakness in one part of the body, and the inability to concentrate.   (Source:

TREATMENT:  Surgery to remove the tumor is the typical first option, but some can’t be removed because of the location. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy are other options to kill the tumor.  They can also be used after the surgery to kill remaining cancer cells.  For tumors that are embedded deep in the brain, a form of highly focused radiation therapy can be used to treat it, called Gamma Knife therapy.  (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY:  Even if the tumor is successfully removed, there is always a chance it can come back.  Therefore, diagnostic tools are necessary.  A new noninvasive diagnostic test for measuring biochemical changes in the brain is called Magnetic Resonance (MR) spectroscopy.  Magnetic Resonance Imaging identifies the anatomical location of the tumor; MR spectroscopy compares the chemical composition of normal brain tissue with abnormal tumor tissue.  It can also be used to identify tissue changes in epilepsy and stroke. MR spectroscopy is done on the same machine as MRI.  It is a series of tests that are added to the MRI scan of the brain or spine to measure the chemical metabolism of a tumor.  It analyzes molecules like protons or hydrogen ions.  Proton spectroscopy is more common.  Several different metabolites can be used to differentiate between tumor types, including: lipid, lactate, amino acids, myoinositol, choline, creatine, and N-acetyl aspartate.  The frequency of these metabolites is measured in units called per million (ppm) and plotted on a graph as peaks of height.  The neuroradiologist can determine the type of tissue present.  It can be used to determine tumor type and aggressiveness, and it can distinguish between radiation necrosis and recurrence.  MRI and MR spectroscopy are both safe.  There are no health risks associated with the magnetic field or the radio waves used by the machine.  (Source: )