Despite the serious nature and urgent need for prompt identification and treatment, brain tumors can be notoriously difficult to diagnose. Even non-malignant tumors can pose a major threat. This is because any tumor that occurs within the confines of the cranial cavity has the potential to damage surrounding brain tissues. Smaller tumors often fail to produce any symptoms which may lead to delayed diagnosis and treatment. Larger more advanced tumors are also difficult to accurately identify as the range of symptoms that sufferers are likely to experience can easily be confused with other illnesses and medical conditions.
Malignant Verses Non-Malignant Tumors
Non-malignant tumors, often referred to as non-cancerous or benign tumors, are localized and pose little risk for spreading to other areas of the body. Removing a benign tumor is often seen as an elective procedure and many physicians and care providers will choose to leave a tumor in place in situations where it may not pose a threat to internal organs or other anatomical structures. The delicate and complex nature of the human brain means that any tumor may pose a threat, even a benign growth. Brain tumors that are left untreated may be far more likely to occlude blood flow or place enough pressure on the brain to cause damage.
Malignant tumors can pose an even more serious threat. These are tumors that have a high risk of spreading to other parts of the body. Surgery and even radiation therapy are often essential for treating malignant tumors as they may pose a systemic threat and, if left in place, may spread and threaten other organs and parts of the body. While early detection can be very beneficial for ensuring that a benign tumor can be removed without causing the patient further harm, accurate diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor is even more essential as prompt treatment will be required in order to combat the spread of the disease.
Symptoms of a Brain Tumor
Tumors within the brain may cause some sufferers to experience any number of symptoms while other may remain asymptomatic, even once their condition has advanced to the point of becoming life threatening. While there is no such thing as a classic presentation, some indications that a brain tumor may be present include:
- Loss of motor control
- Impaired vision or hearing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Olfactory hallucinations
Lacking a clear and concise set of symptoms is a common complication, one that may delay the onset of treatment. Failure to detect and treat a tumor as early as possible can limit treatment options and decrease the prognosis for survival and recovery.
The main treatment strategies for brain tumors focus on limiting their growth, curtailing their ability to spread to other areas of the body and removal of any tumor that may pose a direct threat to the brain itself. While surgery can often prove very effective, there are many instances where it may not be a viable option. Patients who are in frail health and situations where a tumor may be too difficult to access during surgery may leave patients with no other option but to rely on radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy utilizes radiation in order to shrink the size of a tumor by killing tumor cells directly. This type of treatment may be utilized in order to treat both malignant and benign tumors and may be used as a stand-alone procedure or in concert with surgery to remove a growth. Radiation is often very effective at shrinking a tumor in order to make it easier to remove or to help minimize the risk of further growth or remission following a surgery.
Misdiagnosis and Delayed Treatment
Early detection holds the key for ensuring that patients are able to take advantage of a greater range of treatment options and for ensuring that such efforts are met with greater success. Failure to properly identify and correctly diagnosis a tumor can drastically reduce the chances of successful treatment and full recovery. In situations where treatment may have been delayed due to a misdiagnosis or other error on behalf of the healthcare provider, patients and their families may wish to obtain legal assistance in order to explore their options.
The consequences of a brain tumor that was not detected in time are often quite severe. Premature death or permanent disability that may stem from a misdiagnosed brain tumor may require survivors to take legal action in order to obtain any financial compensation they may be owed. If you or a member of your family have suffered from a brain tumor that was misdiagnosed, the services and assistance of the right personal injury and malpractice lawyer can be make a real difference.