Common Misconceptions About Brain Tumors

x-ray of a brain tumor
Advanced treatment options have provided new opportunities for patients with brain tumors, but a brain tumor diagnosis can still be life-threatening without a proper understanding. Dr. Ali Krisht, director of the CHI St. Vincent Arkansas Neuroscience Institute, provides clarity on some of the most common misconceptions about brain tumors.

Is brain tumor surgery risky for patients?

“Our abilities in making the surgery safe and knowing more details about a tumor is highly developed. We can know exactly where a tumor is, we can map its path and we can see how it relates to the functions around it. We can even study the connections of the brain that pass in the vicinity of the tumor and it can tell you how to plan your operation to avoid the cables that could cause weakness or loss of function.”

Do all brain tumors require surgery?

“If the tumor is large or in a critical spot and it’s causing compression of the brain with evidence that it’s growing, it’s usually an indication to do something. A lot of it also depends on age. For younger people with brain tumors, we tend to want to treat them earlier but for somebody advanced in age that may have had it for a while, there’s no reason to expose them to surgical risk when the tumor may have already been there for 20 years.”

Is it possible for a brain tumor to be inoperable?

“Anybody who is told that their brain tumor is not operable or nothing can be done, I would look for another opinion. In the right place and with a team with the right experience, a lot of things can be done. There is no tumor in our clinic or in our program that goes untreated.”

Can I still live a normal life after having a brain tumor?

“When it comes to brain tumors, it’s not gloom and doom. We’re very advanced in our understanding compared to 40 or 50 years ago. There’s a lot of potential bright spots and a lot of things that can be safely done. Even when a tumor is in complex or difficult locations, a large number of patients can enjoy going on with a normal life after treatment.” 

Does heavy cell phone use cause brain tumors?

“It has been suggested that cell phones could be a source, and there have been some anecdotes about patients developing tumors in the temple region where we hold our phones. If this was the case, we would have seen a much higher increase in occurrence by now as many people use them on a daily basis. At this stage, there is no evidence or proof that cell phones can cause brain tumors.” 

To learn more about brain tumors and treatment options, visit the CHI St. Vincent Arkansas Neuroscience Institute.