Tumor: this five-letter word evokes fear, shock and confusion. And, a brain tumor diagnosis might sound like a death sentence. However, there are over 120 types of brain and central nervous system tumors. Some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant), while others are not (non-malignant). Either way, tumors in the brain or central nervous system (CNS) are different for everyone as they form in different areas, develop from different cell types, and may have different treatment options. While it is normal to feel scared, insecure, or angry about a brain tumor, you can empower yourself to by gathering information and talking to a physician. While tumor may be a five-letter word, science, math and computers are the dynamic trio to knock out tumors!
High-tech, sci fi stuff right here! The use of advanced imaging technology such as MRI, CT and PET coupled with computer-led 3-D brain imaging and virtual reality have revolutionized the precision with which neurosurgeons can treat areas of the brain. We may have seen these diagnosis and treatment options on our favorite TV medical drama, but it’s happening right now. For example, magnetic resonance elastrography and slip interface, invented and available only at Mayo, show tumor firmness and adhesion before surgery, helping surgeons plan and avoid complications. 3-D modeling and virtual reality help physician simulate how a brain tumor will behave – in ways not seen on imaging – to create better treatment plans. Smart tablets assist in awake brain surgery where patients are awaken during brain surgery to perform small tasks like write their names or even strum a violin! Scars may be a thing of the past with Mayo’s use of scarless brain surgery utilizing tiny camera and microsurgical tools introduced into the brain via a quarter-size incision to remove a tumor.