Several different tests can be used to confirm or rule out a brain tumor diagnosis. Typically, the process begins with a patient discussing his or her symptoms and medical history with a primary care physician. (Very few patients are diagnosed with brain cancer before they start to experience symptoms.) If, during this initial visit, the physician suspects that the patient might have a brain tumor, the physician may order one or more imaging scans and/or a tissue biopsy. Generally, these diagnostic tests will be completed by a team of oncologists and pathologists who specialize in brain cancer.
At Moffitt Cancer Center, patients have access to some of the most advanced and accurate diagnostic tests for brain cancer. The experts in our Neuro-Oncology Program may utilize any of the following testing methods when making a brain tumor diagnosis:
- PET scans
- MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging)
- CT scans
- Surgical biopsies
- Liquid molecular biopsies
- Next-generation sequencing tests (used to examine samples of cancerous tissue to learn about the genetic makeup of the tumor cells)
We offer these diagnostic tests to individuals who are experiencing the symptoms of brain cancer but have not been diagnosed with any specific illness, as well as to patients who have already received a brain tumor diagnosis but are looking for a second opinion. If the tests indicate the presence of a malignant growth, our team can recommend a tailored treatment plan that accounts for the patient’s unique diagnosis.
To help determine which therapies will offer a patient the best chance of survival and the highest quality of life, we may also complete several additional procedures, such as a lumbar puncture or an electroencephalography (EEG) test. The members of our multispecialty tumor board will review the results of these procedures and work together to individualize the patient’s treatment plan.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology and Chief of Neurosurgery.