Something that we don’t talk about quite as often is the approach we take with treating brain tumors. Brain tumors have very unique profiles like each patient, we approach them on an individual basis. Depending on the location, the symptoms, the overall health of the patient, and a variety of other factors we determine the best course of action. When faced with a brain tumor we have a rather simplistic approach as follows:
The fundamental principle is to first take care of the patient. The tumor is actually not the issue, because, for most patients, the surgery itself is straight forward but it’s the actual establishment of a diagnosis and subsequent treatment that’s really the most difficult part to go through. So if it’s a benign tumor then there are usually no issues, but if it’s a malignancy that’s a life-altering diagnosis and even though our surgical involvement is generally brief, we can have a profound impact on their lives by how you explain this to them, interact with them, and refer them to other providers for subsequent treatment.
Honesty is the best policy. We don’t hide any information and certainly guess either. So, if someone has a mass that is ill-defined or establishes a firm diagnosis without surgery, we tell them that. And when we do operations, we generally tell patients that we can’t tell them what they have until we have a final pathologic diagnosis. So there again, it’s being as upfront and direct with them as possible without taking away their hope.