What is Brain tumor?
A tumor is defined as a mass of tissues which is formed due to the accumulation of cells. Tumors can be non cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant) in nature.Benign brain tumors are not deep rooted in the brain and can be removed surgically with ease. Even after the operation, they can still come back but are less likely to occur unlike malignant tumor. Benign tumors don’t cause death but it can cause inflammation on the brain by putting immense pressure on and around the skull.
What are the causes of Brain Tumor :
The exact cause of brain tumor is still not known, but studies suggest that certain risk factors might trigger brain tumor. Children receiving radiation are more prone in developing brain tumor as adults. A rare genetic condition called Li-Fraumeni syndrome or neurofibromatosis. People who are over the age of 65 are also at a higher risk of developing brain tumor. Cancerous brain tumor can lead to brain cancer and spread to the central nervous system and other part of the brain as well.
How is brain tumor diagnosed?
It is advisable to consult a neurologist to diagnose brain tumor. The neurologist starts by asking you about the health history of your family and symptoms you might be experiencing at the present moment. A physical exam is also performed accompanied with a MRI or CAT scan to see the images of your brain.An MRA or an Angiogram is also performed in some cases. This involves use of a dye to see the blood vessels in the brain to locate abnormal blood vessels and a tumor. A biopsy is required to know whether the tumor is malignant or not. This is done by removing a brain tissue with a needle inserted through a hole drilled inside the skull. This tissue is sent to the lab for imaging and testing.
Treatment of brain tumor:
Most of the tumors are removed by surgery based on their location in the brain. In some cases, the tumor is usually located in a sensitive area and cannot be operated. In this case, radiation therapy or chemotherapy is used for shrinking or killing the tumor. Chemotherapy can also be used after surgically removing the tumor to kill the remaining malignant cells in the brain. Tumors which are extremely deep inside the brain are usually treated with Gamma Knife therapy (highly advanced radiation therapy). It vital to see a therapist during the treatment.
Like most other organs of the human body, the brain too is susceptible to cancer. Brain cancer is typically the result of abnormal growth of primary brain cells or the spreading of cancer cells that originated in another organ of the body. This is known as secondary or metastatic brain cancer. Depending on the stage it is diagnosed in, brain cancer can be cured. Let’s take a closer look at primary brain cancer.
Primary brain cancer or the development of tumours in the brain is fairly uncommon. However, they may attack children and adults alike. There are many different types of brain tumours. Their names depend on the part of the brain affected or the type of cell they originate from. The most common types of brain tumors are meningiomas, gliomas, pituitary adenomas, primary CNS lymphomas, vestibular schwannomas and medulloblastomas. Each of these tumors grows at a different rate and causes different symptoms. However, they can all be graded on the same stages.
In this stage, the cell growth is usually very slow. These cells look very similar to normal brain cells and the tissue is benign.
When cancer reaches this stage, the cells begin to grow at a faster pace and look a little different from normal brain cells. The tissue also turns malignant at this point.
The abnormal cells or tumor begins to grow actively and take on a completely different look as compared to normal brain cells. These calls may also be termed as anaplastic.
This is the most aggressive stage of brain cancer. At this stage, the cells begin to grow at a very fast rate.
Treatment for brain cancer depends on a number of factors including the size of the tumor, cancer stage, patient’s overall health, age and any other medical issues that may be present. Brain cancer can be treated with drugs, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Two or more of these forms of treatment are usually used together for faster and better results.
Whenever possible, a doctor will try to remove the tumor surgically. This may be preceded by drugs to prevent seizures and relieve swelling in the brain. Patients who cannot undergo surgery may be given radiation instead. This form of therapy uses high energy rays to kill the cancer cells. Radiation may also be used after surgery to kill any abnormal cells that could not be removed surgically. Radiation for brain cancer may be given externally or internally. Chemotherapy can also be used to treat brain cancer. This involves delivering medication orally or intravenously to kill the tumors. Each cycle of chemotherapy usually lasts a few weeks and is followed by a rest period. The results of chemotherapy are usually visible after 2 or 4 cycles.
A brain computed tomography angiography (CTA) is a specialized neurologic CT scan, and it involves fast CT imaging while simultaneously injecting IV contrast into a vein in the arm. This procedure allows visualization of the specific vascular anatomy of the organs in the body. It can also be used to evaluate vessels or plan a surgery. Mostly it is used to identify a small aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation (abnormal communications between blood vessels) inside the brain.
The entire CTA exam may be completed within a few seconds. However, the patient’s actual time in the room may be long. This delay can occur as the technologist takes his/her time to position the patient on the table, check or place an IV line, do preliminary imaging to verify the beginning and end points of the exam, and set up the scan and contrast injection settings based on the part of the body being imaged.
Benefits of brain CTA include the following:
Risk factors for brain CTA
A small chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation History of allergy to X-ray contrast material Risk for kidney failure, as the contrast material could potentially further damage the kidney function in patients with pre-existing kidney disease.
A brain tumor can occur at any age and it generally occurs in people in the age group of 40-60 years. The common types of brain tumor are termed as meningioma and gliomas. These supratentorial brain tumors generally occur above the covering of the cerebellum tissue. In children, brain tumors occur at the age of 1-12 years and the most common tumors are ependymomas, astrocytoma and meduloblastomas. Brain tumor is the common cause of death even in children.
Tips to Detecting a Brain Tumor
The general symptoms that are indications of a brain tumor include severe headaches, memory changes, nausea, drowsiness, sleep problems, fatigue and sudden involuntary movements of muscles of an individual. The symptoms can be either specific or generic and the general symptoms are mainly caused by the pressure of the tumor on the brain. The specific symptoms on the other hand are caused when specific parts of the brain does not function properly. Many people even experience loss of control of body functions.
The other problems that are experienced by individuals include changes in the ability to perform daily activities and loss of balance. They find difficulty in hearing, speech and at times are very aggressive. If these symptoms exist, then your doctor would recommend a physical examination and ask about your health history and that of your family.
Tests to Detect Brain Tumor
The tests that are advised by doctors to detect a brain tumor include MRI, neurologic exam, CT scan, biopsy, angiogram and spinal tap.
In the neurologic exam the vision, alertness, hearing, coordination, muscle strength and reflexes are checked by the doctor. The doctor also checks for any swelling in the eyes which can be caused by the pressing of the nerve which connects the brain and the eye.
The CT scan done for detecting brain tumor provides detailed pictures of your head and it is done through an X-ray machine which is connected to a computer. The contrast material is injected into the blood vessel of your hand and abnormal areas can be seen easily.
In this method tissues from the brain are removed and tested for tumor cells. The cells are observed by a pathologist under a microscope mainly to check for abnormal cells. The biopsy method is used to show tissue changes that can further lead to cancer. Brain tumor can be easily diagnosed with this method.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI as it is commonly referred to is of great use as it helps to diagnose brain tumors. In this procedure, a dye is injected through a vein in the arm using which the variances in the tissues of the brain can be identified In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!
It takes some time for a patient to return to normal life after a brain surgery. The patient must take extra rest for the healing to occur. The time for the recovery after brain surgery differs from one individual to another and mainly depends on the location of the surgery in the brain, the procedure used, overall health of the patient and areas of the brain affected by the surgery. The length of the stay in the hospital also depends on factors such as type of surgery performed, and if the patient requires any further treatment.
Care after Brain Surgery
The brain surgery is carried out by a neurosurgeon who is specially trained in critical care. Here comprehensive care is provided to the patients. After the surgery, it is only after the assessment by the doctors that the patient can see his or her family members. Care of the patient after brain surgery is done in the neurosurgery nursing unit. There are chances of occurrence of some problems with regards to the thoughts, behavior and feelings of the patient after the surgery. For this reason it is important to provide assistance to the patients for recovering. They are given rehabilitation therapy for the same.
Treatment Provided by Rehabilitation Specialist
The rehabilitation specialists mainly include the speech language pathologist, occupational therapist and the physical therapist. The main role of the occupational therapists is to assess the ability of the patient in performing day to day activities such as using the toilet, getting dressed and having a bath. The therapists also check the thinking skills and vision of the patient to determine whether the patient can return to work again and be able to perform other challenging tasks.
In most cases, a brain surgery affects speech and the problem can be evaluated by the speech language pathologists. It can also affect the thinking power and language. The pathologists even evaluate the patient for disorders in swallowing food.
The right-after care is necessary for brain surgery and a lot of fluids and nutrition are provided through intravenous infusions to the body. It is important for patients to sleep with their head raised to restrict the brain swelling. The patient should avoid coughing hard as such actions can lead to intracerebral pressure. It is essential to take proper rest. It is also important to try to move at frequent intervals for smooth circulation of blood and avoid stiffening of limbs.
It is important for patients to stay away from rigorous activities. They should resume any sports activity only after proper recovery. It is recommended not to go for swimming for at least one year mainly because of the risk of seizures. After the invasive procedures it is advisable not to return to full time work or to start working fewer hours.
Often it has been observed in patients undergoing a brain surgery that their memory gets affected. The memory can sometimes be affected either by the tumor growing inside the brain or by the surgery for the removal of that tumor. Rather than the long-term memory, in the majority of the brain surgery cases, it is the short term memory that gets affected more noticeably. Further, sometimes, people have difficulties in making new memories after the brain surgery along with retrieving the old ones. Continue reading to know more about brain surgery and amnesia.
How is brain surgery connected to amnesia?
The presence of a tumor in the brain can affect one's memory in two different ways. Though not everyone suffers from it, there is a possibility that the treatment or the surgery often leads to memory difficulties and sometimes it's the location of the tumor in the brain that causes the memory damage. Sometimes, even radiations or chemotherapy sessions can also be responsible for amnesia. One must know that having a brain tumor or opting for a brain surgery doesn’t necessarily cause memory loss or amnesia for everyone. And those patients who do suffer from this, both the severity and symptoms of the memory loss vary from one to another.
Probable memory difficulties
Memory difficulties, also commonly referred to as amnesia, can be two different types, retrograde amnesia, and anterograde amnesia, irrespective of whether it is the result of the treatment or the location of the tumor. In case of retrograde amnesia, the memory loss occurs before undergoing a brain surgery, or sometimes even before developing the brain tumor. However, those who suffer from anterograde amnesia face difficulties in remembering their previous memories after the brain surgery is performed.
Coping with amnesia
Once the type of memory loss one is suffering from is identified, there are various ways and strategies to cope with amnesia, suggested by the doctors. Taking good care of one’s self, having the necessary amount of sleep along with a healthy diet helps one improve his or her capacity of recalling the forgotten memories in many cases.
Further, by adopting simple measures like maintaining a diary, following a routine and organizing one's medications with reminder notes can also help an amnesia patient in coping with the normal life situations. Minimizing the distractions and focusing on a single thing at a time can also be helpful in not only coping with it but also in improving the memory.
In case one displays signs of having a memory problem after a brain surgery, he or she should be immediately taken to a clinical psychologist or a neuropsychologist. Because it is with the help of this medical professional that severity of the amnesia that the person is suffering from and which part of memory has been affected can be determined, and the right ways of coping with the issue can be suggested.
What is Brain tumor?
What are the causes of Brain Tumor :
How is brain tumor diagnosed?
Treatment of brain tumor: