- by Medikoe Health Expert
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- Feb 09 2017
What is Brain Tumor?
The growth of abnormal cells in the brain sounds scary, even overwhelming at times. But if you identify it early, it can be easily treated. A brain tumor can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Whether benign or malignant tumors grow, they may cause the pressure inside the skull to increase. This can cause brain damage, and it can be fatal.
Brain tumors can be categorized as primary or secondary. A primary brain tumor originates in the brain. Most primary brain tumors are benign. A secondary brain tumor, also called a metastatic brain tumor, occurs when the cancer cells spread to the brain from another organ, such as cancer affected lung or breast.
What are the types of Brain Tumors?
They are specifically divided into two types:
Primary Brain Tumors
Primary brain tumors originate in the brain, and they can develop from the brain cells, nerve cells, glands, or the surrounding membranes around the brain, called meninges. It can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). In adults, the most usual types of brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas.
Gliomas are tumors that develop from glial cells. Glial cells are the cells present in the brain that helps in supporting the structure of the central nervous system, provide nutrition to the central nervous system, breaks down the dead neurons, and cleans the cellular waste
The types of tumors that begin in glial cells are:
- Astrocytic tumors such as Astrocytomas that originate in the cerebrum and is often benign
- Oligodendroglial tumors, which are usually found in the frontal, temporal lobes
- Glioblastomas, arise from the supportive brain tissue and are most aggressive
- Meningiomas, those arising in the meninges
- Schwannomas, which originates in the cells that produce the protective cover of nerves (myelin sheath) called Schwann cells
Most meningiomas and schwannoma cases occur in people between the ages of 40 and 70. Meningiomasmore often occurs in women than in men. Schwannomas can occur equally in both men and women. Usually, these tumors are benign but may lead to complications because of their size and location. Cancerous meningiomas and schwannomas can turn very aggressive.
Other Primary Brain Tumors are:
- Pituitary tumors, which are usually benign
- Ependymomas, typically benign
- Pineal gland tumors, which can be either benign or malignant
- Craniopharyngiomas, which mostly occur in children and are benign and may have symptoms like changes in vision and premature puberty
- Primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, which are always malignant
- Primary brain lymphomas, which are malignant
- Primary germ cell tumors of the brain, which can be either benign or malignant
Secondary Brain Tumors
Secondary brain tumors make up the majority of brain cancers cases. They start in one part of the body and spread to the brain. The following cancers can lead to the brain:
- Lung cancer
- Breast cancer
- Skin cancer
- Kidney cancer
What are the symptoms and signs of a Brain Tumor?
The best way to treat brain tumor is by understanding its early signs and symptoms. Let us help you with it.
1. Seizures: More than 50% of the patients having brain tumor experience seizure. Therefore, if you are experiencing any seizure episodes then kindly consult with your health care specialist at the earliest.
2. Headaches: If you are experiencing morning headache accompanied by nausea and vomiting then this might be an early sign of a tumor in the brain. This pain may get severe and worsen as the day goes by or when you cough, sneeze or bend.
3. Vomiting: Throwing up frequently if you are not pregnant or if you don't have any problem with your digestive system then this can be one major sign of a brain tumor.
4. Vision: A tumor formation can cause complete or partial loss of vision in the occipital lobe or temporal lobe of the cerebrum. Therefore, get it checked as soon as possible.
5. Hormones: The tumor formation can cause sudden hormonal imbalance in the pituitary gland of the brain. The pituitary gland is known as the “master gland” because it is the main endocrine gland. Any tumor on/in it can cause:
- Lactation (secretion of breast milk)
- Changed menstrual periods in women
- Abnormal growth in hands and feet in adults
6. Memory: Any problems with long-term or short-term memory can be a sign of tumor growth in the brain.
Few other symptoms to watch out for:
- Changes in walking abilities
- Personality change
- Constant tiredness
- Sleep problems
Look out for the signs, because earlier the treatment better is the effectiveness.
What are the treatments available for Brain Tumor?
If the tumor is developed in a site that can be reached without causing significant injury to other vital parts of the brain, then an operation is the best treatment of choice for brain tumors. With surgery, the doctor (neurosurgeon) can remove as much of the tumor as possible without applying any pressure within the skull.
It starts with a craniotomy (open the skull) and then the tumor is removed. Post the surgery radiation, or chemotherapy may be used on the remaining tumor cells.
Medications are used only to control the side effects of the brain tumor. Some of them are:
- Steroids: It is used to reduce the swelling and fluid build-up (edema) around the tumor.
- Furosemide or mannitol is used to control edema and swelling.
- Anticonvulsants: Is used to prevent or control any seizures.
- Laser Interstitial Thermal Therapy: It is a minimally invasive treatment that transmits heat to kill all the brain tumors from the inside out.
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy is treatment where high doses of radiation are used to kill the cancer cells and shrink the tumors.
Chemotherapy or drug therapy works by disrupting the cell division of the tumor (cancerous or non-cancerous). The drugs can be taken orally or intravenously. Chemotherapy is typically used for high-grade gliomas (not usually used for benign tumors). It is one of them.
Talk to your doctor for more information. You can even find one here on Medikoe. Find an experienced and certified healthcare specialist near you on Medikoe answer all your questions.
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