Brain tumor diagnosis and staging

Once a brain/spine tumor or cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists will determine the stage of your disease. Knowing the stage of your brain or spine tumor allows your medical team to determine the best possible treatment plan for you.

Examinations and tests for brain tumors

Any combination of these tests and procedures may be used to find and classify (stage) brain tumors and cancers:

  • Neurological examination. Helps find the cause of symptoms and provides a standard way to monitor changes throughout treatment; this will include a complete medical history, a screening of neurological function, diagnostic tests, and possibly blood tests.
  • Angiography, MRI angiography (MRA). Maps blood vessels in the brain with (angiography) or without (MRA) the use of dye injected into an artery
  • Biopsy. Removes a small amount of cells or tissues for viewing under a microscope to check for signs of cancer
  • CT scan (computed tomography). Uses a type of X-ray to create detailed, highly accurate, cross-sectional images of the body
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Uses a magnetic field instead of X-rays to provide detailed images of body structures
  • PET scan (positron emission tomography). Uses an injection of a short-lived radioactive substance to create detailed images of body structures that help identify cancer and areas of inflammation in different parts of the body
  • Lumbar puncture. A procedure that uses a fine needle inserted into the spinal canal low in the back to collect and look at the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Brain tumors: learn more