In cases where a brain tumor is suspected, a number of tests may be done to help the doctor reach a brain tumor diagnosis. These tests may also be able help the doctor determine what kind of tumor it is.
Some of the tests performed to first diagnose the tumor are later used to monitor progress — to see if the tumor has disappeared, is shrinking, remains the same, or has changed in some way. Like many other medical conditions, follow-up care for a brain tumor might go on for years or even a lifetime.
Understanding these tests — what they are, why they are done, how they are done, and what they can and cannot show — may help you feel more comfortable and in control of the situation. If at any time you have questions about the tests ordered, feel free to ask. The doctors, nurses, and other professionals giving these tests can provide answers, information, instructional materials, and reassurance to help you feel more at ease.
In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) reclassified central nervous system (CNS) tumors. Historically, tumors were diagnosed by the way they looked under the microscope (histology). The updates, informed by leading neuro-oncologists and neuropathologists, recommends a layered approach to classifying a tumor. Learn more about the 2016 WHO Classifications of Brain and Central Nervous System Tumors.