A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain. The skull, which encloses your brain, is very rigid. Any growth inside such a restricted space can cause problems.
There exists different types of brain tumors. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), while some are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors which evolve in your brain are called primary brain tumors, and cancer that begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain are called as secondary or metastatic brain tumors.When benign or malignant tumors grow, they can cause the pressure inside your skull to increase. This can cause brain damage, and it can be life-threatening.
The brain and central nervous system tumors based on where they form and the kind of cells they involve are classified in the following way.
▪︎ Benign (non-cancerous) Brain Tumors.
• Acoustic neuroma:
These tumors occur on the vestibular nerve (the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain). Acoustic neuromas are also called vestibular schwannomas.
These central nervous system tumors form in neurons (nerve cells).
These are the most common type of primary brain tumors. Meningiomas develop slowly. They form in the meninges, the layers of tissue that protect the brain and spinal cord. In rare cases, a meningioma can be malignant.
These slow-growing tumors form in the pineal gland, which is located deep in the brain and secretes the hormone melatonin.
• Pituitary adenoma:
These small tumors form in the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland makes and controls hormones in the body.
These slow-growing tumors typically begin at the base of the skull and the bottom part of the spine. They are mostly not cancerous.
▪︎ Malignant (cancerous) Brain Tumors
These tumors develop in glial cells, which surround and assist nerve cells. Two-thirds of cancerous primary brain tumors are gliomas. Types of gliomas include:
* Astrocytoma: Astrocytomas form in glial cells called astrocytes.
* Glioblastoma: Aggressive astrocytomas that grow quickly are glioblastomas.
* Oligodendroglioma: These uncommon tumors begin in cells that create myelin (a layer of insulation around nerves in the brain).
Medulloblastomas are fast-growing tumors that form at the base of the skull. These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children.
Symptoms of a brain tumor can be general or specific. A general symptom is caused by the pressure of the tumor on the brain or spinal cord. Specific symptoms are caused when a specific part of the brain is not working well because of the tumor.
▪︎ General symptoms.
•Headaches, which may be severe and worsen with activity or in the early morning
• Seizures. People may experience different types of seizures.
• Personality or memory changes
• Changes in ability to walk or perform daily activities
• Nausea or vomiting
• Sleep problems
• Memory problems
▪︎ Symptoms specific to the location of the tumor .
• Pressure or headache near the tumor
• Inability to look upward can be caused by a pineal gland tumor.
• Lactation, which is the secretion of breast milk, and altered menstrual periods in women, and growth in hands and feet in adults are linked with a pituitary tumor.
• Partial or complete loss of vision is caused by a tumor in the occipital lobe or temporal lobe of the cerebrum.
• Altered perception of touch or pressure, arm or leg weakness on 1 side of the body, or confusion with left and right sides of the body are linked to a tumor in the frontal or parietal lobe of the cerebrum.
• Loss of balance and difficulty with fine motor skills is linked with a tumor in the cerebellum.
• Changes in speech, hearing, memory, or emotional state, such as aggressiveness and problems understanding or retrieving words can develop from a tumor in the frontal and temporal lobe of the cerebrum.
• Changes in judgment, including loss of initiative, sluggishness, and muscle weakness or paralysis is associated with a tumor in the frontal lobe of the cerebrum.
• Vision changes, including loss of part of the vision or double vision can be from a tumor in the temporal lobe, occipital lobe, or brain stem.
• Difficulty swallowing, facial weakness or numbness, or double vision is a symptom of a tumor in the brain stem.
There is no known specific cause for brain tumors to occur. Mutations (changes) or defects in genes may cause cells in the brain to grow uncontrollably, causing a tumor.
The only known environmental cause of brain tumors is having exposure to large amounts of radiation from X-rays or previous cancer treatment. Some brain tumors occur when hereditary conditions are passed down among family members.
Risk Factors –
There are only a few known risk factors for brain tumors in adults
• Exposure to radiation.
Children who receive radiation to the head have a higher risk of developing a brain tumor as adults.
• Family history.
Some brain tumors are linked to certain rare genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
People between ages 65 and 79 make up the population most likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumor.
• No history of chickenpox.
One study has found that people who had chickenpox are less likely to get gliomas.
Risks of brain surgery include infection and bleeding. Clinically dangerous benign tumors are also surgically removed. Metastatic brain tumors are treated according to guidelines for the type of original cancer.
For any suspected case of brain tumor, doctor may recommend a number of tests and procedures to the patient, including:
• A neurological exam.
In a neurological examination following certain check ups are included – checking your vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength and reflexes. If difficulty in one or more areas come across in examination, it provide clues about the part of your brain that could be affected by a brain tumor.
• Imaging tests.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to help diagnose brain tumors.
A number of specialized MRI scan components — including functional MRI, perfusion MRI and magnetic resonance spectroscopy — may help doctor to evaluate the tumor and further treatment plan.
Sometimes other imaging tests are recommended in certain situations, including computerized tomography (CT), skull X-rays, angiography and positron emission tomography (PET).
• Testing a sample of abnormal tissue (biopsy).
A biopsy can be performed as part of an operation to remove the brain tumor, or a biopsy can be performed using a needle.
The treatment of a brain tumor depends on:
• your general health
• the type of tumor
• the size of the tumor
• the location of the tumor
The most common treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The target of treatment is to remove as much of the cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy parts of the brain. Still the location of some tumors allows for easy and safe removal, other tumors may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumor can be removed. Sometimes if complete removal of tumor is not possible, partial removal of brain tumor can be beneficial for the patient to live comfortable life.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are combined with the surgery to get maximum benefits from the treatment.
After neurosurgery the physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help you to recover.
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