Brain Tumor is a growth of abnormal cells and forms a solid mass called a tumor in the brain. This solid mass may be cancerous called malignant or it may be non-cancerous known as benign tumors.
Symptoms of Brain Tumor
The brain is a very sensitive organ of the human body. A very little disturbance in the brain activity may cause a major impact on whole body systems. So patient shows symptoms very soon in case of a brain tumor. Also, signs and symptoms depend upon the location of the tumor in the brain.
Following are some typical signs the patient will exhibit.
Dizziness: The patient may feel dizziness because the tumor increases pressure on brain tissues and interrupts blood supply to brain tissues.
Lethargy/ Feeling sleepy: Less nutrition or glucose to the brain due to decreased blood supply to brain tissues may cause sleepiness and lethargy.
Headache: Increased intracranial pressure may cause headaches.
Nausea and vomiting: Increased pressure caused by brain tumors on cells causes nausea and vomiting.
Fits/seizures: Brain tumors suppress the surrounding tissues and disturb electrical activity in the brain which causes fits or seizures.
Unconsciousness: Interrupted blood supply due to pressure exerted by a tumor or brain cell may alter the patient’s consciousness level.
Forgetfulness: Memory changes may occur if brain cell function is altered.
What are the worsening symptoms of brain tumor?
If the brain tumor progresses patient will feel the following symptoms
- Uncontrolled nausea vomiting
- Continuous headache
- Speech problems/slurring of speech
- Paralysis of any limbs (stiffness in neck or limbs)
- Severe memory loss
- Numbness in arms and hand if tumor originates in spinal cord
What are the causes of brain tumors?
Risk factors or causes of brain tumors are unknown, but there are some risk factors that could be the leading cause.
Radiation exposure: A patient who is treated with radiation is at high risk for developing brain tumors. History of cancer: Patients having other cancers like cancer of the liver and breast are at high risk for brain tumors as a result of metastasis.
Family History: Patients having a family risk of brain tumor are at high risk.
The brain tumor is diagnosed by following diagnostic tests.
Physical assessment medical history: On the basis of the patient’s symptoms your physician will do a complete physical and neurological assessment. Also will take a complete history of the patient including family history.
Magnetic Resonance Image: MRI is done to detect brain tumors.
Computed Tomography Scan: A CT scan is also done for the detection of tumors in the brain also in other parts of the body.
Brain Tissue Biopsy: Taking a small piece of brain tissue to test the features of cells in it. Furthermore, It is done to diagnose whether the tumor is cancerous or not.
Brain tumor types
There are basically two types
Benign Brain Tumors. These tumors are located in one specific place and do not invade other parts of the brain and spine. However, if increase in size can exert pressure on surrounding tissues and may disturb patients’ functions. Benign tumors are of many types.
Managing Benign Tumors:
benign tumors are treated in the following ways:
Surgical Resection of Tumor: Surgery is the best option for benign tumors. In surgery, the neurosurgeon will remove the part of the tumor as possible as he can without damaging other brain tissue.
Chemotherapy: The unresected part/remaining part may be treated with cytotoxic drugs called chemotherapy to shrink the size of the tumor.
Radiotherapy: If the tumor is deep in the brain tissue then radiation therapy is given to shrink it as radiation can go deep in the brain.
High-dose steroid therapy: High doses of steroids are administered to decrease the swelling caused by the tumor.
Anti-seizure medications: seizures may be caused by the tumor so for the safe side anti-seizure medications called anti convalescents may be given to patients.
If the benign tumor size is very small and does not cause any symptoms, it can be monitored through scans over time so, no need to have surgery or other treatments.
Malignant tumors are called cancer tumors which spread to other parts of the brain very quickly. it has two types.
Primary Brain Tumors:
These tumors originate in the brain and move to other parts.
Secondary Brain Tumors:
Secondary tumors move to the brain from other cancers in the body. e.g. cancer from breast or liver metastases to the brain. Mostly the malignant tumors spread from other parts
Management of Malignant Tumors:
Malignant brain tumors are again treated in the following ways
Surgery: Surgery is the best option for malignant brain tumors. If the tumor size is large it could be shrunk by administering chemotherapy first and then resecting the tumor.
Chemotherapy: According to the type of cancer cells chemotherapy is advised to kill the cancer cells. Side effects after chemotherapy are manageable.
Radiotherapy: If the tumor is in deep brain tissues where chemotherapy cannot reach, the tumor is shrinking by giving radiation therapy.
Stem cell transplant: Primary CNS lymphoma may be treated with high doses of chemotherapy and preceded with an autologous stem cell transplant. However, the Care of patients after transplant is very necessary.
Medical management includes anti-emetic medicine for nausea and vomiting, painkillers for headaches some steroids to reduce swelling in the brain, and anti-seizure medications to decrease the risk of seizures.
Moreover, early detection of symptoms and timely diagnoses may have good treatment results and prevent patients from complications.