Patients and Caregivers

 A diagnosis of cancer can be devastating for both the patient and his or her family. Cancer in the brain can be even more alarming because people know little about what to expect from their tumors and the treatment options, while being very concerned about the toxicities of treatments. We understand that patients seek unbiased information as well as expert advice on their disease. The purpose of this information is to supply patients, families, advocates, and caregivers the information and confidence they need to make informed health care decisions.

About brain tumors

Each year, about 17,000 new cases of primary malignant brain tumors are diagnosed (Cancer Facts and Figures 2002). In addition, it is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 metastatic brain tumors are diagnosed in the United States each year (Newton 2002). In children, approximately 3,100 benign and malignant brain tumors were diagnosed in 2002 making brain tumors the second most common cancer of childhood (CBTRUS 2002). Primary malignant brain tumors claimed about 13,100 lives in 2002 (Cancer Facts and Figures 2002).

Although medical science has not identified the cause of brain tumors, studies are underway to identify possible sources. These sources include exposure to certain viruses, exposure to chemicals, and factors related to heredity.

Brain tumors are considered either primary or metastatic. Primary brain tumors originate in the brain, while metastatic brain tumors start in another part of the body and spread to the brain.

Tumors of the central nervous system (CNS) may involve the brain, cerebrospinal fluid (fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord), and/or the spinal cord.

People with brain tumors may experience a wide range of symptoms depending on factors such as the tumor type, size, and location.

At OHSU many different kinds of brain tumors are treated. These include CNS lymphoma; primitive neuro-ectodermal tumors (PNETs); germ cell tumors; gliomas, which include astrocytoma, anaplastic astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, anaplastic oligodendroglioma, glioblastoma multiforme and brain stem glioma; and metastatic tumors, which include breast, ovarian, small cell lung, and adenocarcinoma that have metastasized from an unknown primary site.

Appointment services

We prefer that a patient is referred to the Blood-Brain Barrier Program by his or her physician. If you are interested in becoming a patient candidate, please ask your doctor to call us at 503-494-5626, or you can call us at the same number for more information.

Before you call us, though, we ask that you please answer the questions on our patient questionnaire so we can best assist you.