All You Need To Know About Brain Tumor

June 13th, 2017

Brain tumor is a growing mass of abnormal cells in the brain. Any growth of cells inside a rigid capacity such as the skull that contains and protects the brain can be dangerous for the body and life as a whole.

Some symptoms that one should look out for as they may indicate brain tumor include:

  • Headaches that seem to worsen with time as well as increase in frequency
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision or other vision problems
  • Twitching or relaxing of muscles known as contractions
  • Loss of sensation or control in legs or arms
  • Around 30 seconds of breathlessness
  • Difficulty in balance
  • Speech disorders
  • Confusion in daily matters
  • Personality or behavioral changes
  • Memory loss
  • Hearing impairment
  • Fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia

Types of brain tumors

A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A benign tumor does not carry cancer cells, grows slowly, can be removed in most cases, and is usually unlikely to spread to other brain tissues.

However, they can be life threatening if they exert pressure on a certain area of the brain and can also create some other mental disease such as Alzheimer, autism and dementia. On the other hand, a malignant tumor carries cancer cells and may invade healthy brain tissues nearby. When both types of the tumors grow in the inflexible brain capacity, it can cause life threatening complications.

A brain tumor is primary or secondary. While a primary brain tumor is often benign and originates in the brain, secondary brain tumor occurs when cancerous cells from other parts of the body spread to your brain; It is also more common and is popularly known as metastatic brain tumor.

Tumors are also classified under grades depending on their size and category.

  • Grade 1

Brain cells appear normal and cancer cells grow slowly. Long term survival with a good quality of life can be expected with Grade 1 cancer.

  • Grade 2

The cells in Grade 2 cancer appear slightly larger and have a slow growth as well. This type of tumor can spread to a nearby tissue and has the chances of re-appearing later, in a more life-threatening way.

  • Grade 3

The cells in such a tumor spread aggressively into the nearby tissues and damage them too.

  • Grade 4

The cells in Grade 4 cancer look highly abnormal and grow and spread very quickly.

Another important thing to mention here is that tumors do not stay constant. A benign tumor can turn into a malignant one and a Grade 1 tumor can turn into a Grade 3.

There are around 120 types of brain tumor present today. They usually get their names from the type of cell involved, some of which are as follows:

Primary Brain tumors

  • Gliomas
  • Meningiomas
  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Pituitary adenomas
  • Medulloblastomas
  • PNETs
  • Craniopharyngiomas

Secondary brain tumors

Secondary brain tumors are usually cancers that take birth in other organs/parts of the body and then make their way up to your brain. There is no specific cancer that progresses to the brain. Any cancer can progress to the brain but some most common types are:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer

Treatment

The treatment of brain tumor is dependent on various factors; This includes your age, overall health, medical history, the type of cancer, the grade of cancer, the location and its size and its chances of spreading to other areas of the brain. Finding out about the lurking tumor and also deciding on the best form of treatment can be overwhelming for both the patient and his family. The following treatment methods are opted for if a person is diagnosed with brain tumor:

  1. Surgery

Surgery is the first treatment aimed at removing the tumor or reducing its size and/or the symptoms. The brain being a complicated and tightly knit mass of tissues and cells, it often becomes difficult to remove the tumor entirely if there are risks of certain integral areas of the brain being affected.

Each area of the brain serves a purpose such as cognition, speech, sight, memory, motor skills, etc., and treating one part of the brain for the removal of the tumor is not always a viable option. Thus, the decision is made after great consideration by the doctor, patient and the family.

Since Grade 1 tumors grow slowly and take time to spread to the body, they can be treated with a surgery. However, for other grades of tumors, a surgery is followed by other forms of treatment as well.

Surgery in the brain is complicated and can be risky. It can result in infection and bleeding as well as important areas of the brain being damaged that contribute to quality of life.

  1. Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a form of treatment opted post-surgery to kill the remaining tumor cells. It uses high energy beams to destroy remaining cancer cells. Radiation is usually provided from outside the body through a machine. In rare conditions though, radiation is placed inside the body near the tumor as well.

Sometimes, when a surgery is not possible, due to the patient’s age or the sensitive area of the brain that the tumor is located in, a radiation therapy is the only option to treat the tumor.

  1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It is taken orally or can be taken intravenously. The side effects of chemotherapy include nausea, vomiting as well as a great deal of hair loss.

Mostly doctors will opt for a combination of treatments to give you better chances of a healthy and fully recovered living.

Following the treatment, it’s imperative to go for rehabilitation. This requires the patient to interact with different therapists to address different problems that were faced owing to the brain tumor like speech issues and management of daily tasks.

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