Cancer Home > Brain Tumor Diagnosis

Exams and tests that are often used to make a brain cancer diagnosis may include CT scan, MRI scan, angiogram, skull x-ray, spinal tap, myelogram, and biopsy. When making a brain tumor diagnosis, the doctor also performs a thorough physical exam, including questions about the patient's symptoms and personal and family medical history.

Brain Tumor Diagnosis: An Introduction

If a person has possible brain tumor symptoms, the doctor will need to perform a physical exam, ask about the patient's personal and family medical history, and recommend additional tests and procedures in order to make a brain tumor diagnosis.

Brain Tumor Diagnosis: The Physical Exam and History

During the physical exam, the doctor will examine the patient to:
  • Check for general signs of health
  • Check for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual
  • Check for alertness, muscle strength, coordination, reflexes, and response to pain
  • Check the eyes to look for swelling that is caused by a tumor pressing on the nerve that connects the eye and brain.
The medical history will include questions about the patient's health habits, occupational history, and a family history of any medical conditions, past illnesses, and treatments.

Exams and Tests Used to Make a Brain Cancer Diagnosis

Exams and tests that are used to make a brain cancer diagnosis may include:
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Angiogram
  • Skull x-ray
  • Spinal tap
  • Myelogram
  • Biopsy.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
A computed tomography (CT) scan is taken by an x-ray machine that is linked to a computer that takes a series of detailed pictures of the head. In some cases, a special dye will be injected into the body so that the brain shows up clearly in the pictures. The pictures can show tumors in the brain.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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