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Diagnosing Brain Tumors

If you suffer from any of the initial signs of a brain tumor, your doctor will likely conduct some or all of the following tests:

  • A physical exam to determine your overall health.
  • A neurologic exam to evaluate brain and spinal cord function.
  • Imaging studies, such as CT, MRI or PET scans, to look for signs of a brain tumor.
  • If studies or scans indicate you might have a brain tumor, some tissue may be taken from the tumor to make an exact diagnosis. This test is called a biopsy.
  • A spinal tap may also be performed to look for tumor cells. During this test, a needle is placed in the lower back to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid is then examined to see if tumor cells are present.