Step 1: Brain Imaging
A brain tumour is generally identified through some form of imaging, whether this be X-ray, CT scan or MRI.
Step 2: Surgery and Biopsy
Where possible, the tumour will be surgically removed. (This is called resection). A tissue sample is taken for the purposes of a biopsy. In some cases due to the location of a tumour, surgery will not be possible and the tumour is diagnosed as ‘inoperable’.
Step 3: Biopsy and Pathology
A biopsy of the tumour is used for the purpose of studying and understanding the pathology of the tumour. The pathology means the biology and molecular make up of the tumour. Traditionally, this has been done under the microscope. However, more sophisticated techniques such as molecular profiling are now being used to study the pathology of brain tumours.
Step 4: Diagnosis
Once the pathology of the tumour is understood a diagnosis of the type of brain tumour can be made. The tumour is classified in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) brain tumour classification guidelines to provide a diagnosis. An accurate diagnosis is important because this will help doctors to determine the best treatment protocol for that type of tumour.