What is a Brain Tumor?
Brain Tumor is the mass growth of abnormal cells in the brain. The brain is located in the skull, any growth inside this restricted space can cause a problem. There are many types of brain tumors. They can be cancerous or non-cancerous. These tumors can grow and cause pressure inside the skull to increase. Brain tumors that begin in the brain are called primary tumors and tumors that grow in other parts of the body and ultimately spread to the brain are called metastatic brain tumors. The treatment of a brain tumor depends on the size, type, and area of a brain tumor.
What are the types of Brain Tumors?
Primary Brain Tumors: Primary Brain Tumors originate in the brain. They can develop from brain cells, nerve cells, glands, and meninges- membranes surrounding the brain. This type of tumor can be cancerous or non-cancerous. The two types of primary brain tumors are gliomas and meningiomas.
Gliomas are the type of tumors that develop from glial cells. Glial cells are neuronal cells in the central nervous system. Gliomas cells provide nutrition to the central nervous system, clean cellular waste and break down neurons.
Meningioma is a tumor that forms on the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord inside the skull. The membranes on which the tumor forms are called meninges. Meningioma is a slow-growing tumor and about 90% of meningiomas are non-cancerous.
Other types of primary brain tumors are pituitary tumors, pineal gland tumors, and ependymomas, to name a few.
Secondary Brain Tumors: Secondary Brain Tumors start in one part of the body and metastasize to the brain. They make up for the majority of brain cancers. Some types of cancer which can spread to the brain are lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, and skin cancer. Secondary cancers are always cancerous as non-cancerous tumors don’t spread from one part of the body to another.
What are the symptoms of Brain Tumor?
The symptoms of a brain tumor vary greatly depending on the location and size of the tumor. Some tumors cause direct damage while others cause pressure on the surrounding brain. Some noticeable symptoms of a growing tumor are:
- Clumsiness and memory loss
- Changes in the ability to taste,smell or hear
- Difficulty in writing, reading or swallowing
- Decreased alertness and difficulty in walking
- Eye problems and uncontrollable movements
What are treatment options for brain tumors?
The treatment of a brain tumor depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor.
Surgery: In the treatment of malignant brain tumors, surgery is the most common option. The focus of the treatment is to ensure the easy and safe removal of tumors without affecting the healthy parts of the brain. As some tumors may be located in areas of limit, in such cases, even partial removal of the tumor can be beneficial. Some risks associated with surgery are bleeding and infection.
Radiation Therapy: This process uses high energy beams to kill tumor cells. External Beam Radiation is when therapy comes from a machine outside the body. It is used either on the tumor area or the entire brain depending on the size of the tumor. The size effects of radiation therapy depend on the dosage of radiation. Common side effects may be fatigue, headaches and scalp irritation.
Radiosurgery: Radiosurgery uses multiple beams of radiation to kill tumor cells in a small area. The different types of technology used to treat brain tumors are Gamma Knife and Linear Accelerator.
Chemotherapy: This method uses drugs to kill tumor cells. The drugs can either be taken orally or can be injected into a vein. The drugs used in chemotherapy depend on the type of cancer. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the dose of drugs however common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and loss of hair.
Targeted Drug Therapy: This is used to block abnormalities present within the cancer cells. This type of treatment can help cancer cells to die.
Rehabilitation after recovery is important as brain tumor affects a part of the brain responsible for motor skills, speech, vision, and thinking. The doctors may suggest physical therapy, occupation therapy, and speech therapy.