Glioma Diagnosis

If you are diagnosed with a glioma, our team at Dana-Farber Brigham Cancer Center will ask about your medical history, symptoms, risk factors and family history of cancer. We will also provide a physical exam with a focus on your nervous system including strength, reflexes, vision, balance and speech. If your doctor suspects that you may have a glioma or another type of brain tumor, our team may request one or more of the following diagnostic tests to help determine if you have a glioma or other brain tumor:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a test that uses magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of the body. MRI is particularly helpful for brain imaging as it is able to demonstrate anatomy of the brain and details of the lesion. In addition, advanced MRI methods can provide individual brain maps of the functional areas of the brain using functional MRI (fMRI) as well as the connections in the brain using diffusion imaging (dMRI). Additional imaging with MRI can detail the amount of blood that is within your tumor. Our center has developed some of these advanced MRI techniques and has the most advanced scanners including ultra-high field MRI. A lot of times your referring physician may have already ordered an MRI, but we may repeat it to use some of the more sophisticated imaging techniques that may not have been used in the MRI acquired outside our center.
  • Rarely a Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan is done. This is a test that uses a combination of X-rays and software to create images of your body to help differentiate glioma from other tumors that may arise from other areas of your body. It will help to discover if you have cancer in your brain or spine.
  • Sometimes imaging approaches that can detail the anatomy of blood vessels around your tumor are performed.
  • Sometimes other types of images like PET scans may be performed.

After a glioma diagnosis, you may be asked to complete more testing. This will help your care team learn more about your tumor, including the type of glioma. They can help show if it has spread to nearby areas or spread to other parts of your body.

Learn more about diagnostic tests and the use of AI in diagnosis.

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