Brain tumour, also known as ‘intracranial tumour’, is an abnormal growth of tissues in the structure of the brain or the central spine, disrupting normal functions. Undoubtedly it’s a critical condition that can affect both children and adults at any age.
After getting diagnosed with a brain tumour, it is normal to feel scared, insecure or perplexed. At the same time, it is important not to get misled by the myths and misconceptions and seek adequate knowledge and timely treatment from the specialist.
Remember you can empower yourself to cope by taking one right step at a time!
This World Brain Tumour Day, let’s understand about brain tumours more precisely.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms vary depending on the location, size, and type of the brain tumour, which includes:
· Severe Headaches
· Weakness or partial paralysis
· Loss of balance
· Dizziness or Fatigue
· Seizures or convulsions
· Personality changes
· Difficulty thinking, speaking or articulating
· Changes in vision
· Hearing changes
· Facial numbness or tingling
· Nausea or vomiting,
· Confusion and disorientation
Types of Brain Tumours
Brain Tumours are classified into two types- primary and metastatic (secondary).
1. Primary Brain Tumours
These tumours originate in brain tissues that can either be benign (without cancerous cells) or malignant (with rapidly growing cancerous cells). Primary brain tumours are located in two sections, the ones surrounded in and around the nervous system are known as Glial tumours. Commonly called ‘Gliomas’, the tumour is found in glial cells that support the nervous system and control functions such as supplying nutrients and oxygen to the nerve cells, removing dead neurons or insulating neurons from each other.
Other primary brain tumours develop in the structures of the brain. Known as non-glial tumours, they can occur in meninges, glands, blood vessels or nerves. Some of these tumours can be pituitary tumours, pineal gland tumours, craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas, and so on.
2. Metastatic brain tumours
Secondary or metastatic brain tumours are majorly the result from the cancer that has occurred in the other part of the body and then spreads to the brain. The risk of metastatic tumour often increases for patients who have a history of cancer. In rare cases, a metastatic brain tumour showcases the first sign of cancer that began elsewhere in the body. The tumour can be spread through the bloodstream to the brain. Some leading cancers resulting in secondary brain tumours are breast, lungs, kidney, and skin which carries the risk of spreading to the brain.
Diagnosis of Brain Tumours
Initially, the condition is diagnosed by observing noticeable symptoms, overall health condition and patient’s family history, says Neurosurgeon of AMRI Hospitals. A thorough physical examination is conducted along with some imaging tests if there is a slight possibility of detecting a brain tumour.
Diagnostic tests including CT scan. MRI or PET scans are performed to get a detailed image of the brain, whereas MRA or angiogram are the techniques involving dye and X-rays to look out for the tumour cells present in the blood vessels around the brain and spinal cord.
If a tumour is detected, your neurologist may ask to perform a biopsy to check if the tumour is cancerous or benign. During biopsy, a small portion of the tumour is removed as a part of the sample through inserting a needle making a small hole into your skull. Biopsy is a surgical method that needs to be performed under the supervision of an expert neurosurgeon.
Treatment of Brain Tumour
Nowadays, several options available for treating brain tumours which includes;
- Surgery: Mostly, doctors prefer to treat malignant brain tumours through surgical procedures. The surgeon can easily remove the maximum number of cancerous cells without damaging healthy brain tissues. Sometimes a person may get further recommendations for other therapies to kill the remaining cells which cannot be removed due to certain restrictions. Also, depending on the condition some benign brain tumours are also removed through surgery.
- Minimally Invasive Surgery: Nowadays, MIS is one of the most used techniques to remove the cancerous cells causing brain tumours. Neurosurgeons prefer minimally invasive surgery to those tumours which are spreading faster than usual affecting other parts of the brain or central nervous system. Majorly it helps a patient in various ways including shorter hospital stay, decreases recovery time and lowers the mortality rate.
- Radiation Therapy: In this procedure, the patient is fully covered with protective gear except exposing tumour area in front of a machine from where external beam radiations are passed to kill tumour cells. These radiations are similar to that of X-rays or protons. The patient can undergo some side effects of this therapy including partial memory loss, fatigue, headaches, or scalp irritation.
- Chemotherapy: One of the preferred methods to treat benign brain tumours, where the person follows a planned session of the entire treatment. During the phase, drugs are either injected or taken orally to kill or shrink the tumour cells. However, chemotherapy has certain types of side effects such as nausea, vomiting, weight loss, hair loss and fatigue.
- Targeted Drug Therapy: Observing the condition and severity of tumour, the neurosurgeon will decide the method to perform targeted drug therapy. The method is applied to treat or block the abnormalities associated with the tumour cells. Sometimes, it helps to kill cancerous cells.
The uncontrolled multiplication of cells or tissues causes tumours. Genes controlling cell division processes are adversely affected by any change or mutation in our DNA. As a result, cells won’t die at the correct time and grow excessively leading to the development of brain tumours.
There are few risk factors that increase your chances of having a brain tumour, such as;
· Exposure to Radiation
· Family History
· Past Cancers
· Age and Race
· Exposure to Chemicals
World Brain Tumour Day 2021
Every year, World Brain Tumour Day is celebrated on 8th June to raise awareness among people about the condition, spread the word regarding the consequences, educate about the timely diagnosis and send support to the people suffering from a brain tumour.
It’s a big misconception revolving around brain tumour that either it will kill a person or result in coma with multiple mental or physical problems. Today, a large majority of brain tumours can be treated successfully and most patients can resume their normal & healthy life.