The Neuro-oncology Unit of IOB Institute of Oncology attends to patients diagnosed with a brain tumor, as well as patients with symptoms that lead to the suspicion of a possible brain tumor that has not yet been diagnosed.
The unit also offers the service of second opinions for patients that are treated in other centers.
Additionally, the Neuro-oncology Unit handles the neurological complications of cancers that affect other organs. Among these, those that stand out include, for example, the complications stemming from the invasion of the brain by the tumor itself, the neurotoxic effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and the paraneoplastic neurological syndromes arising from the inflammation of the brain caused by cancer, generally of lung.
Patients treated in the Neuro-oncology Unit are attended to by a team made up of specialists in oncology, neurology, neurosurgery, anatomical pathology, radiotherapy, diagnostic imaging and nursing.
This multidisciplinary team makes it easier for patients to be able to undergo all the tests and receive all the treatments that they need in a coordinated manner in the same location and in the shortest amount of time, without the need to travel to different centers and separately manage visits to different specialists.
This team is led by the neuro-oncologist Francesc Graus.
Brain tumors are often detected due to changes in behavior or changes in a person’s perceptions that can indicate a possible neurological lesion.
These alterations include, among others, recurrent headaches of an unknown cause, changes in personality, problems with speech, vision disorders, deterioration in one’s sense of balance, fainting, nausea and recurrent vomiting.
None of these symptoms can allow us to conclude that a person has a brain tumor, since they may be due to many other causes.
However, a CT or MRI imaging exam should be done in order to show whether there is a lesion that is compatible with a brain tumor.
The diagnosis begins with a visit that includes a neurological examination and a depth interview with the patient during which they are questioned about their symptoms and medical history.
This visit is essential to confirm whether the suspicions that a patient may have a glioma or another type of less frequent brain tumor are grounded, based on the results of the imaging tests.
If these examinations confirm the initial suspicion of a localized brain tumor, surgery is usually scheduled to remove the tumor and to obtain a sample of cells that will allow the identification of the specific type of cancer in question.
In line with IOB’s immediate care strategy, the quick diagnosis circuit allows the start of the treatment within one week just after the first visit of a patient with symptoms of a possible brain tumor.
Treatment begins with a surgical intervention to remove the tumor as long as it is possible. It is a complex surgical operation that must be planned individually for each patient according to the type of tumor and its location within the brain.
In cases where the diagnosis is glioma, the most common form of brain tumor, the patient receives radiotherapy treatment for six months after the surgical operation.
In a high percentage of patients, the treatment must be accompanied by chemotherapy that lasts for a further six months. During this period the patient has monthly visits to check for possible undesirable effects of chemotherapy and every three months an MRI is performed to check on the evolution of the glioma.