How to Test for Brain Cancer

Updated at: May 20, 2018
How to Test for Brain Cancer

If you suspect having brain cancer, a no. of tests and diagnostic procedures may be recommended by your doctor.

Vatsal Anand
CancerWritten by: Vatsal AnandPublished at: May 20, 2018

If you suspect having brain cancer, a no. of tests and diagnostic procedures may be recommended by your doctor. The uncontrolled growth of cancer cells resulting in a malignant tumour in the brain can be detected with some tests. These tests for brain cancer detection are:


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  • Neurological exam – This involves checking your hearing, vision, ability of balancing, muscle coordination and reflexes. These tests would reveal the part of the brain that is affected by a tumour growth.
  • Imaging tests – MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) is a common test for diagnosing brain tumour. It involves injection of a dye in your vein. Specialised MRI scans, such as functional MRI, perfusion MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy help the doctors evaluate the tumour and plan of treatment. Other imaging tests used for diagnosis of cancer are computerised tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET).
  • Tests for spread of cancer – Brain tumour can result from the transfer of cancer cells from any other part of the body to the brain. If this is suspected, your doctor can recommend procedures and tests for determining that such is indeed the case. Lung cancer is often the originating cancer which spread to the brain. CT scans can be done to evaluate whether that has happened if brain cancer is suspected.
  • Biopsy – It means collection of a sample of abnormal tissue from the site of suspected cancer, and testing it. Biopsy for diagnosis of brain cancer can be performed when the patient is being operated for removal of brain tumour, or by extracting the tissues by using a needle. The needle used for this purpose is called stereotactic needle and it can be used for reaching out to areas that are very sensitive. Such areas cannot be subjected to extensive operation because your brain might be damaged. First of all, a small hole needs to be drilled into the skull, after which tissue is removed using the needle, which is frequently guided by CT or MRI scanning. The biopsy sample is then viewed under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous or benign. This information is helpful in guiding treatment.

Read: CT Scan for Brain Cancer

Treatment of brain cancer begins and ends with regular medical care all through your life. Regular medical check-ups and evaluation allows your health care professional to best assess symptoms, such as headaches and numbness, your risks of having brain cancer, and involves prompt order for diagnostic testing in case worsening of condition is found.

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