AVM FAQs

Phoenix, AZ Cancer Centers

 

At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, our mission is to provide world-class cancer treatment and radiation therapy to patients throughout the greater Phoenix, AZ area. Our mission is to make treatment as convenient and effective as possible for our patients, and we strive to create comprehensive, personalized treatment plans at each of our six radiation therapy facilities. We’re proud to treat virtually any form of cancer and some noncancerous conditions, including arteriovenous malformations (AVMs). If you have questions on AVMs, this page can help.

 

Common Questions About AVMs

 

What is an AVM?

An arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, is essentially a snarled tangle of blood vessels.
Normally, arteries bring oxygenated blood into systems of capillaries, which are microscopic blood vessels thin enough to pass oxygen from the blood to surrounding cells. Once depleted of oxygen, the blood rejoins a vein and is transported back to the lungs for oxygenation. In an AVM, a direct connection forms between arteries and veins, skipping the capillary system and causing blood to pool.

Where do AVMs form?

Technically, AVMs can form anywhere in the body – but they’re most serious when they form in the brain. Brain AVMs carry a risk of bleeding, which can cause a range of serious problems and even prove fatal.

What causes AVMs?

Scientists still don’t fully understand the causes of AVMs. Most AVMs seem to be congenital (present from birth), but there’s no evidence to indicate the AVMs are hereditary.

What causes a brain AVM to bleed? How likely are they to bleed?

AVMs bleed because the abnormal connection between blood vessels weakens the walls of the blood vessel. Over time, the pressure caused by the pool of blood can cause these walls to burst, causing a bleed. Brain AVMs have a 1-3% chance of bleeding in a given year, but over the course of 15 years, about a quarter of brain AVMs will bleed. Brain AVMs that have bled before are more likely to bleed again.

How serious are brain AVM bleeds?

Extremely. The risk of death from a brain AVM bleeding is about 15%, and the risk of permanent brain damage is 20-30%. A brain bleed can permanently damage brain tissue, which is an extremely serious problem.

How are AVMs treated?

There are a number of options for treating AVMs, which can range from inserting something into the AVM to close it to using radiation therapy such as CyberKnife to close the AVM. At Palo Verde Cancer Specialists, we can often use radiation therapy to close AVMs without the need for surgery.

 

Contact Your Phoenix Radiation Therapy Clinic

 

While many AVMs never cause a problem, brain AVMs are a serious risk to your health – and if you’ve been diagnosed with one, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about your treatment options and schedule an appointment. We’ll create a plan to close your AVM and eliminate the risk of a bleed, helping to keep you safe and protect the life you deserve.

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