- by Dr Reginald Varadarajulu VSM
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- Feb 09 2017
SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF BRAIN CANCER
Symptoms of brain tumors vary and depend on the location and size of the tumor. Tumors may cause direct damage by invading brain tissue and causing brain pressure to rise. There are noticeable symptoms when a growing tumor puts pressure on the brain tissues.
Headaches are a common symptom of a brain tumor. Usual nature of these headaches:
worse in the morning when waking up
occur while sleeping
worsenwhile coughing, sneezing, or exercise
blurred or double vision
seizures (mostly in adults)
weakness in a limb or part of the face
a change in mental functioning
Other common symptoms include:
difficulty while writing or reading
failing ability to hear, taste, or smell
decreasing alertness, may include drowsiness or loss of consciousness
difficulty to swallow
dizziness or vertigo
eye problems, such as drooping eyelids and unequal pupils
loss of bladder or bowel control
loss of balance
numbness or tingling on one side of the body
changes in mood, emotions, and behavior
trouble speaking or understanding
Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors
The following symptoms can occur with pituitary tumors:
nipple discharge, or galactorrhea
lack of menstruation in women
enlargement of the hands and feet
development of breast tissue in men, or gynecomastia
sensitivity to heat or cold
increased amounts of body hair, or hirsutism
low blood pressure
How Are Brain Tumors Diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a brain tumor usually begins with a physical exam and a look at patient’s medical history.
The physical exam includes a very detailed neurological examination. Eyes and pupils are observed with an ophthalmoscope, which is an instrument that shines a light through pupils and onto your retinas to check the cranial nerves. This allows to check how the pupils react to light. It also allows looking directly into theeyes to see if there’s any swollen optic nerve. When pressure increases inside the skull, changes in the optic nerve may occur.
Further evaluation may be for:
ability to do mathematical calculations
After the initial physical exam, following tests may include:
- CT Scan of the Head: CT scans are ways to get a more detailed scan of the body than with an X-ray machine. This can be carried out with or without contrast.Contrast is obtained in a CT scan of the head by using a special dye that helps doctors see some structures, like blood vessels, more clearly.
- MRI of the Head: In MRI of the head, a special dye can be used to help detect tumors. An MRI is different from a CT scan because it doesn’t use radiation.
- Angiography: This study uses a dye that’s injected into the artery, usually in the groin area. This dye travels to the arteries in the brain. It allows seeing what the blood supply of the tumors looks like, which is useful to know at the time of surgery.
- Brain Scan: A brain scan involves using harmless a radioactive dye that’s injected into a vein. An image is takenwhen the dye goes through the veins in the tumor.
- Skull X-Rays: Brain tumors can sometimes cause breaks or fractures in the skull, and specific X-rays can show if this has occurred. These X-rays can also detect calcium deposits, which are sometimes restrained within a tumor. Calcium deposits may move to bloodstream if cancer moves to the bones.
- Biopsy: A small piece of the tumor is extracted during a biopsy. A specialist called a neuropathologist examines it. The biopsy identifies if the tumor cells are benign or malignant. It also determines whether the cancer originated in the brain or another part of the body.
Treatment of Brain Tumors
The treatment of a brain tumor depends on:
The type of tumor
The location of the tumor
The size of the tumor
The usual treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The objective is to remove all traces of cancer without damaging the healthy parts of the brain. In certain cases the location of some tumors allows for easy and safe removal, while other tumors may be located in an area that limits the amount of the tumor that can be removed. Even partial removal of brain cancer can turn beneficial.
Risks of brain surgery may include infection and bleeding. Clinically dangerous benign tumors are also removedsurgically. Metastatic brain tumors are treated as per the guidelines for the type of original cancer.
Surgery can be blended with other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
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