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.
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.
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 that are used to make a brain cancer diagnosis may include:
- Computed tomography (CT) scan
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
- Skull x-ray
- Spinal tap
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.