Brain Tumor- Complete Guide
Brain Tumor- Complete Guide
As explained on Health Line, brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in the brain. If we take into consideration the rigidness of the skull enclosing the brain, any type of growth inside this rather restricted area can be problematic. The tumors can be of two different types, i.e. malignant or cancerous and benign or non-cancerous. Regardless of the type of tumor, when it grows, it elevates the pressure inside the skull, which could be responsible for life-threatening brain damage.
According to Mayo Clinic, the growth rate of the tumor and its location are often decisive of how the tumor will influence the nervous system. Hence, the treatment options for brain tumors often depend on its type, size, and location.
With this in mind, the focus of this article is to present the most important information regarding this type of cancer like the various types of it, risk factors, symptoms, and treatment and prevention and thus, increase the public awareness about this specific health problem. This is of pivotal importance if we take into consideration that in 2018, it is estimated that there will be around 78,980 new cases of brain tumors in the U.S. solely, as noted by the CBTRUS.
The Different Types of Brain Tumor
As seen on Health Line, brain tumors fall into two distinct categories, i.e. primary and secondary. The former originate in the brain and most of them are benign whereas the latter, which are also known as metastatic tumors, develop when cancerous cells spread to the brain from other organs like the breasts or lungs.
The primary one may be created from the brain cells, from the membranes surrounding the brain, the nerve cells, or the glands. Although they are mostly benign, they can also be cancerous. The major types are gliomas and meningiomas.
Gliomas develop from the glial cells which are known to support the central nervous system’s structure, supply nutrition for the central nervous system, remove cellular waste, and also break down dead neurons. The tumors which begin in these cells may be astrocytic, oligodendroglial or glioblastomas. Here are several other types of primary brain tumors:
- Primary germ cell tumor
- Primary central nervous system lymphoma
- Pineal gland tumors
- Pituitary tumors
The secondary brain tumors, as explained on Health Line, begin developing in one area of the body and spread towards the brain. These are usually skin, kidney, breast, and lung cancers. Unlike the primary brain tumors, these ones are always malignant because the benign ones do not metastasize.
The Major Symptoms of Brain Tumors
According to Health Line, the signs of brain tumors are conditioned by where the tumor is located and its size. Some may invade the brain tissues whereas others may pressurize the surrounding brain. The symptoms are most prominent when its growth starts to push onto the brain tissue. Let us take a look at the potential symptoms one may experience during this condition:
- Headaches (when waking up, while sleeping, worsen when you cough or sneeze)
- Blurry vision
- Weak limb or a facial part
- Shifts in mental functioning
- Loss of memory
- Inability to read or write
- Reduced senses
- Low alertness
- Incapacity to swallow properly
- Eye-related issues like unequal pupils
- Loss of balance
- Hand tremors
- Changes in personality, mood, and emotions
- Weak muscles
Furthermore, these symptoms may be felt if one has pituitary tumor:
- Discharge from the nipples
- Lack of menstruation
- Breast tissue development in men
- Enlarged hands and feet
- Cold and heat sensitivity
- Low blood pressure
- Weight gain
What Does the Diagnosis Process Involve?
If you happen to experience any of the above-mentioned symptoms, you should not hesitate to consult your physician to determine their origin.
As emphasized on Health Line, the diagnosis of brain tumors starts with a physical exam and a look at one’s medical history. The exam is comprised of a neurological examination or a test to reveal the state of the cranial nerves (they originate in the brain); also, they eyes of the patient may also be examined since pressure in the skull is known to lead to changes in the optic nerve. The doctor may also inspect your coordination, memory, muscle strength and may recommend CT scan, MRI, angiography, skull x-ray, or biopsy too.
Even though the trigger in a lot of cases of primary brain tumors is not always straightforward and clearly known, there are specific factors that put one at a higher risk of this illness. Here are the main ones:
Around 5 to 10 percent of cancers are hereditary and even though a brain tumor is rarely inherited, you should talk to your doctor if several members of your family have been diagnosed with it.
Generally speaking, brain tumor is more prevalent in Caucasians whereas African-Americans have a higher risk of meningiomas.
One’s risk of brain tumors is known to elevate with age.
- Radiation exposure
Individuals exposed to ionizing radiation through high-radiation cancer treatments or from nuclear fallout have a higher chance of brain tumor.
- Exposure to chemicals
Being exposed to specific chemicals, like those used in some work surrounding, may make one more prone to brain cancer.
According to Health Line, currently, the most common treatment option for malignant brain tumors is surgery and the purpose is to eliminate as much as of the cancerous cells as possible without harming the healthy brain parts and impeding brain function. Since every therapy is individualized, a surgical procedure may also be combined with additional treatments like chemo or radiation. Occupational, speech, and physical therapy were found to be helpful in speeding up one’s recovery from neurosurgery.
Individualized therapy means that the treatment is based on one’s age, overall health and on the size, type, and stage of the tumor.
Usually, the surgery is performed under general anaesthesia whereas others may require a lighter sedation. The removed portion of the tumor is later sent for analysis, as noted on E Medicine Health.
What about Prevention?
According to E Medicine Health, there is no known method for averting brain cancer. But, early diagnosis and adequate treatment may lower the spreading of the tumor. What’s more, staying away from radiation as well as from environmental toxins and chemicals plays their role in the prevention of brain cancer. Even though there has been a lot of talk on the internet about the connection between cell phones and brain cancer, findings published by the National Cancer Institute in 2016 showed no connection between these two. Still, if you want to lower any type of radiation coming from phones, it is good to opt for models that have the lowest amount of radiation.
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