Brain Tumors and
Memory Loss

By M. CHRIS WOLF, PH.D.

Founder & Editor-in-Chief

Patients with brain tumors have played a significant role in the development of understanding of the human brain by neuroscientists and neuropsychologists.

Here we will briefly discuss memory problems associated with brain lesions located in different areas of the brain.

A tumor is also called a neoplasm or lesion. It is defined as a mass of new tissue that persists and grows independently of its surrounding structures and has no practical use by the body.

Cells in the brain that reproduce themselves in an uncontrolled manner cause this abnormal growth.

Primary brain neoplasms originate in the brain. Metastatic brain lesions usually spread to the brain by the bloodstream. This is a cancer that has spread from the part of the body where it started to other parts of the body or brain.

Some researchers have shown that the cerebral cortex (the outer layer or gray matter part of the brain) is the site of 80-85% of Metastatic brain lesions.

FACT: Brain lesions are the third most common brain illness leading to loss of brain function in older people.

Meningiomas and pituitary adenomas are a category of brain neoplasms that accounts for more cases of dementia (loss of brain function) in older people.

Meningiomas are slow growing benign brain tumors. They grow on the thin membrane that surrounds the Brain (the meninges).

Pituitary adenomas are usually benign. They are slow-growing tumors that start from cells in the pituitary gland.

Memory loss and concentration problems can develop with pituitary adenomas.

Meningiomas growing in the left temporal region (language area of the brain) and parietal area (movement area of the brain), can severely affect memory and language centers.

Meningiomas are slow growing benign brain tumors. They grow on the thin membrane that surrounds the Brain (the meninges). On the positive side, about 90% of all Meningiomas are noncancerous.

Meningiomas are less than ½ inch or 2 cm usually do not cause symptoms. However, those that are 4 to 5 cm or 1 ½ to 2 inches usually require surgery because they cause symptoms.

Fortunately, only 1 to 2 percent of patients who have the surgery have complications. Radiosurgery or the use of high does of radiation to target the tumor does not require an incision. This may be an option. This reduces or shrinks the tumor.

Further, if there is pressure in an area nearby can affect the communication to the memory area.

Patients with brain tumors have played a significant role in the development of understanding of the human brain by neuroscientists and neuropsychologists.

IMPORTANT: It is prudent to obtain a second opinion when you are given a serious diagnosis like a brain tumor. Be sure to read:

Methods for Communication with Your Doctor

Pituitary adenomas are usually benign. They are slow-growing tumors that start from cells in the pituitary gland.

Memory loss and concentration problems can develop with pituitary adenomas.

Meningiomas growing in the left temporal region (language area of the brain) and parietal area (movement area of the brain), can severely affect memory and language centers.

Further, if there is pressure in an area nearby can affect the communication to the memory area.

The word benign can be misleading when used in the brain.

Usually with tumors, this means not life threatening. However, in the brain, if a tumor is not cancerous it can still be considered "malignant".

Malignancy really depends on what structures of the brain are affected and how difficult it is to treat the tumor.

It is important to note that any kind of neoplasm located or affecting the area of the Temporal Lobe (language and memory are of the brain) can cause the greatest problems with both verbal and visual memory.

See Memory Defined for definitions of verbal and visual memory.

Also visit Dementia Overview

IMPORTANT: Any kind of neoplasm whether considered benign or malignant is a serious matter. It is vital that your primary care physician refer you to the doctor who is best able to diagnosis and manage the type of lesion that you have.

The good news is that medicine has become much better able to treat brain lesions than ever before. Medication, radiation and in some cases surgery can be very effective.

For more information about Brain Tumors consult:

Children's Brain Tumor Foundation, 274 Madison Avenue, Suite 1004, New York, NY 10016 info@cbtf.org Tel: 212-448-9494 866-CBT-HOPE (228-4673) Fax: 212-448-1022

National Brain Tumor Society, East Coast Office 124 Watertown Street, Suite 2D, Watertown, MA 02472 info@braintumor.org Tel: 617-924-9997 800-770-8287 Fax: 617-924-9998


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