Brain cancer or tumor is determined in four stages. Stage 1 is less severe while stage 4 is life threatening. These stages are determined by abnormal cell growth within the brain. In order to determine the stage of brain cancer, a biopsy of the brain has to be done. Once the biopsy is taken, it is examined under a microscope. This examination determines the amount of cell growth and if it has spread to the surrounding tissue.
Stage 1 brain cancer is less serious and easily treatable. When a patient is diagnosed with stage 1 brain cancer, the growth is slow. Some cells still resemble normal cells within the brain. In this early stage of brain cancer, the cells have not invaded the surrounding tissue. Surgery is done and in most cases, the whole tumor can be removed. Sometimes chemotherapy or radiation is given to make sure all the cancer cells are eradicated.
During stage 2, the tumor is bigger. Most likely it has spread to the surrounding tissue. Even at this stage, it can be treated with surgery. As with stage 1 and depending on where the tumor has spread, the tumor can be removed. In stage 2, the tumor has the potential to develop into a higher stage or become aggressive.
Patients who are diagnosed with stage 3 cancer have a more aggressive tumor. Growth of the tumor is apparent. Cancer cells in the brain or now distinctive. They look different from normal cells. Often, surrounding tissue has become affected. Treatment is given in form of chemotherapy. If the tumor is big and surgery can't be performed right away, chemotherapy is used to reduce the size. The surgeon can then go in after the tumor has shrunken and remove it.
In stage 4, the tumor has grown aggressively. This stage of brain cancer can be difficult to treat, but not impossible. The size, location and if it has spread to other parts of the brain determine the kind of treatment necessary.
Methods of Diagnosing Stages
As mentioned earlier, one way of determining the type of stage of brain cancer is biopsy. Another way of determining the stages of brain cancer are X-rays and MRIs. These tests take pictures of inside the brain and show if the cancer has metastasize. Also, some doctors prefer doing a lumbar tap. They insert a needle between the bones of the spinal column. They tap into the sack that holds the spinal fluid. Some of the fluid is withdraw and checked for cancer cells. One test or a couple of these tests together may be used to check for cancer cells.