Can brain and spinal cord tumors in adults be found early?
At this time there are no widely recommended tests used to screen for brain and spinal cord tumors. (Screening is testing for cancer in people without any symptoms.) Most brain tumors are found when a person sees a doctor because of signs or symptoms they are having (see “How are brain and spinal cord tumors in adults diagnosed?”).
In most cases, the patient's survival is determined by their age, the type of tumor, and its location, not by how early it is detected. But as with any disease, earlier detection and treatment is likely to be helpful.
For people with certain inherited syndromes that put them at higher risk for brain tumors, such as neurofibromatosis or tuberous sclerosis, doctors may recommend frequent physical exams and other tests starting when they are young. In some cases these tests may find tumors when they are still small. Not all tumors related to these syndromes may need to be treated right away, but finding them early may help doctors monitor them so that they can be treated quickly if they begin to grow or cause problems.
Last Medical Review: 10/09/2012
Last Revised: 02/06/2013