About Brain Tumour

A brain tumour is a collection or a mass of abnormally multiplying cells in the brain. Since a rigid skull encloses the brain, any growth in the tumour size can increase the pressure inside the skull, increasing the risk of brain damage. There are over 150 types of brain tumours detected so far, and these can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumours usually grow slowly, have distinct borders and rarely spread. However, malignant tumours grow rapidly and have a high tendency to spread. Based on their origin, brain tumours can also be classified as primary (originate in the brain) or secondary (when cancer cells travel to the brain from other organs like the lungs or breast). Brain tumour treatment options vary depending upon the type of brain tumour, its size, location in the brain, closeness to vital structures, and patient’s age and overall health. Brain tumour life expectancy depends upon the type of brain tumour, its grade, and stage at the time of diagnosis. The 5-year survival rate for malignant brain tumours is around 10%.

Symptoms

Symptoms of brain tumours depend upon the location of the tumour in the brain. The earliest warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent headaches that may be severe in the morning or at night
  • Seizures
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision changes
  • Hearing changes

Other common symptoms of brain tumour are:

  • Memory problems
  • Changes in personality
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation and hallucinations
  • Difficulty in talking or inability to speak
  • Numbness or tingling on the face

Diagnosis

If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your physician immediately. After evaluating your symptoms, they may refer you to a specialist. If the specialist suspects a brain tumour, you may be recommended the following screening and diagnostic tests:

  • Neurological exam

This includes a thorough evaluation of your vision, hearing, balance and coordination, muscle strength, reflexes, etc. Since many brain tumours affect one or more of these neurological functions, any abnormal results may indicate the presence of a tumour.

  • Imaging test

Imaging tests are routinely used to detect brain and spinal cord tumours. Today, sophisticated imaging tools like CT scans, MRI and PET scans provide accurate results about brain tumours, their location, size, and spread. 

  • Biopsy

If a brain tumour is confirmed in imaging tests, your doctor will recommend a biopsy. A biopsy involves collecting a tumour tissue sample from the brain by performing surgery. It may be performed using a fine needle in some hard-to-reach tumours. The biopsy sample gives detailed information about the type of your brain tumour and its stage.

 

Treatment

We often hear about chemotherapy and brain tumours when talking of various available treatment options. But, the most commonly used brain tumour treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. The suitable treatment options for you depend upon the following factors:

 

  • Type of brain tumour
  • Location of the brain the tumour is
  • Spread of cancer
  • Grade
  • Overall health and fitness of the individual

 

Surgery is the first line of treatment for most brain tumours. This is particularly helpful in removing small and benign tumours. In some advanced tumours, surgery helps reduce the size of the tumour, relieving the patient’s signs and symptoms. Surgery in advanced stage 3 and stage 4 brain tumour is usually followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy to kill any remaining tumour cells that could not be removed by surgery. In malignant tumours with a high recurrence rate, treatment may help reduce symptoms and prolong life.

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