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Is it common need to biopsy brain tumors more than once?

Caregiver1963's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Jan 2010

My husband was diagnosed with an anaplastic actrocytoma located in the thalamus a year ago. The tumor is inoperable due to the location. He is being treated at a highly repected teaching hospital and we obtained 2 other opinions before proceeding with treatment. His initial treatment was radiation therapy and and temodar and since completing radiation he has been taking temodar 5 days once a month. He recently developed loss of sensation on one side of his body and had a MRI done yesterday that shows that the tumor is likely larger. His oncologist is recommending another brain biopsy to confirm that there hasn't been a change in type of tumor. My husband is reluctant to agree to the biopsy. He may be eligible for clinical trials if the tumor type has changed. I would be interested in learning if anyone else has been in a similar situation where temodar didn't seem to give the results expected. Did anyone in this situtation agree to the brain biopsy? What treatment options did you proceed with?

Thank you

the_liz_army's picture
Posts: 39
Joined: Mar 2009

Dear Caregiver1963:

It makes sense to me that your medical team would want to re-biopsy your husband's tumor to see if any changes have occurred. This does not seem out of the ordinary.

Here's my version of a similar story:

My tumor is in the parietal lobe and I had a craniotomy in September 2009. I didn't need a biopsy because brain tissue was taken from surgery, but it was with this tissue that they were able to determine the pathology of my tumor (grade 2 astrocytoma), and my neuro-oncology team was able to proceed with recommendations based on this information.

But then the tumor grew back six months later. This lead my medical team to believe that there was either a sampling error with the original pathology, or that the GRADE of the tumor had changed (which can happen, and is sometimes the fate of low grade gliomas). My medical team wanted a sample of the growth in order to determine my next course of action.

Fortunately for me, the parietal lobe is very accessible and I had another craniotomy to remove more tumor. In my case the tumor grade remained the same (yeah!). This information made it possible for my medical team to make changes in my treatment so I could benefit from it.

I say, as long as there are no real complicated risks due to the biopsy that would inhibit the quality of your husband's life, go for it.

I went into my second craniotomy with the knowledge that it could leave me paralyzed on the right side of my body. I weighed the options: paralyzed side or cancer? I remembered that cancer would kill me, but I could always kick *** at physical therapy and make a comeback.

Find out what you and your husband can handle. I bet you can do it this.

Your friend,

Caregiver1963's picture
Posts: 46
Joined: Jan 2010

Hi Liz,
Thank you so much for your response. Your post was so helpful.He did agree to the biopsy and it was done last week without any problem. We now wait for the results

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