A brain tumor is a cancerous or a non-cancerous growth of cells in the brain. This growth of abnormal cells can take place in any part of the brain or it can happen in any other body party and spread to the brain.
It is a fairly common condition that affects millions of people around the world. An undiagnosed brain tumour can prove fatal and therefore, it is necessary to undergo specific tests and initiate treatment as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.
The symptoms of a brain tumour can be confused with some other medical condition, especially migraine. Increasingly strong headache and blurred vision are the two most common symptoms of a brain tumour. People with this condition can also experience seizures, confusion, nausea, vertigo, impaired voice, and loss of balance.
Treatment for a brain tumour depends on several factors. The type, size, and the location of a tumour, in addition to the overall health of the patient and his or her age, are some of the considerations made by the doctor while preparing a brain tumour treatment plan.
Different treatment modalities can be used to treat brain tumour patients and surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are among them. Usually, a combination of treatment modalities is used to conduct brain tumour treatment.
Before initiating treatment for a brain tumour, several tests are conducted to identify the exact location of the tumour. Additionally, the doctors determine with the help of tests whether the tumour is cancerous or non-cancerous.
The patient will be advised to undergo a couple of routine blood tests and undergo an electrocardiography (ECG) test to check for the normal functioning of the heart. Certain additional tests such as CT scan and MRI are also conducted.
Before the tumour removals surgery, the patient is mostly given steroids to control edema and swelling. An anticonvulsant medicine may also be given to control the occurrence of seizures.
Patients who also suffer from an accumulation of fluid in the brain due to the tumour (hydrocephalus) may need a shunt to drain it first. A shunt works like a drain pipe that removes the fluid from the brain and either drains it into the abdomen or the heart, where it is absorbed.
The procedural details depend on the type of treatment that the patient is recommended to undergo. A surgery is almost always recommended for brain tumor patients. TO remove the tumor in the brain, the surgeon first opens the skull, a procedure known as a craniotomy.
During the surgery, the aim of the surgeon is to remove as much tumor as possible without affecting the nearby tissues. Partial tumor removal is carried out in some patients to reduce the size of the tumor to make sure that it can be treated with radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
The tumor is left as in some patients. In such cases, the doctor only removes a sample of the tumor tissue for a biopsy. The biopsy in the case of brain tumor patients is mostly conducted with the help of a needle. During this procedure, the tissue sample is looked under a microscope to identify the type of cells that it has. Accordingly, the doctors advise a course of treatment.
Radiation therapy is another treatment modality used in the case of patients with brain cancer and tumors that cannot be removed through surgery. Additionally, it is also used to destroy tumor cells that could not be removed during surgery.
External radiation therapy, internal radiation therapy, and GammaKnife or stereotactic radiosurgery are some of the forms of radiation therapies commonly used to treatment brain tumor patients.
Chemotherapy is the third treatment used for a brain tumor. It involves the use of a specific combination of drugs to kills cancer cells. These drugs are mostly administered intravenously and the patients are not required to stay in the hospital for this procedure. Chemotherapy is administered in cycles.
After a surgery for brain tumor removal, the patients need extra time to heal fully. Additionally, it may take a few months for the patient to return back to normal energy levels. The total time taken by the patient to recover, however, depends on several factors. This may include the following:
Q: How do you tell if you have a brain tumor?
A: Some of the common signs and symptoms of a brain tumour may include frequent and severe headaches, vision-related problems such as blurred or double vision, unexplained vomiting or nausea, and seizures. Even though these are the common signs of brain tumor, a proper diagnosis is required to confirm the condition. These symptoms can be present because of some other medical condition as well.
Q: What is the most common type of brain tumour?
A: Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a type of tumor that belongs to a category called gliomas. It is one of the most common and the deadliest brain tumor that affects adults. It develops in the star-shaped glial cells called astrocytes. These cells support the nerve cells.
Q: Are brain tumours treatable?
A: Whether brain tumours can be cured or not depends on the grade of the tumor. Grade I tumour cells are mostly treatable if they are removed completely during surgery. Grade II and Grade III cells may spread to nearby tissues and there are chances of them coming back despite treatment. Grade IV brain tumours are mostly untreatable.
Q: What tests are conducted to diagnose brain tumour?
A: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests are conducted to diagnose a brain tumour. These may include a functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and perfusion MRI. A CT scan is also sometimes conducted at the time of diagnosis.
Q: What can be done to prevent brain cancer?
A: The occurrence of brain cancer has not been linked to a single cause. However, exposure to environmental toxins and radiation and HIV infection are known to increase the risk of brain tumour.