A tumor is an uncontrolled and abnormal growth of cells. A brain tumor is thus an abnormal growth and multiplication of cells in the brain. The cell growth can also be in areas adjacent to the brain. The brain tumor may
- Have its origin in the brain (Primary brain tumor), or
- Its origin may be in some other parts or organs of the body, which gradually spreads to the brain (Secondary/metastatic brain tumor).
Not all brain tumors are harmful and life threatening.
Brain tumors that exist as noncancerous cell growths are known as Benign brain tumors. Benign brain tumors seldom pose any threat to life.
Brain tumors that are cancerous and, thus, harmful, are known as Malignant brain tumors.
Do not neglect any brain tumors (malignant or not). It is better to be safe than to be sorry.
Types of Primary brain tumors:
Based on its cell of origin, primary brain tumors (benign as well as malignant) may be of the following types:
- Meningiomas: Brain tumors that originate from the meninges (the membranes that cover the brain and the spinal cord). Meningiomas are seldom malignant.
- Acoustic Neuromas: A noncancerous cell growth that has its origin in the vestibulocochlear nerve (the eighth cranial nerve). This nerve connects the brain with the inner ear.
- Gliomas: Here, the tumor has its origin in the brain and the spinal cord (glial cells). This type of brain tumors, in most cases (~80%), are malignant.
- Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumors (PNETs): Extremely rare, PNETs are malignant tumors that develop in the embryonic cells in the brain.
- Medulloblastomas: Medulloblastomas is a malignant brain tumor that mostly affects children. It originates in the cerebellum (lower part of the brain).
- Craniopharyngiomas: A benign brain tumor that has its origin near the pituitary gland (base of the brain). Craniopharyngiomas are common in children.
Probability of a secondary brain tumor are more in people who have had;
- Kidney cancer
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Colon cancer
The symptoms of brain tumor include:
- Chronic and regular headaches.
- A change in the headache pattern.
- A person may experience vision problems (Peripheral vision may be affected, double or blurred vision).
- There may be difficulty in hearing.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Behavioral and speech problems.
- An arm or a leg may lose sensation.
- A person has difficulty with balance.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Though brain tumor can affect anyone and everyone, its chances are higher in
- People who are more exposed to ionizing radiation. People having undergone a radiation therapy are equally vulnerable.
- Children as well as older people.
- People having a family history of brain tumors.
The diagnosis includes;
- An imaging test like the MRI, CT scan and PET (Positron Emission Tomography).
- Biopsy, whereby samples of the abnormal tissue is collected and examined.
- Neurological examination.
- Surgery is an effective treatment for brain tumors.
One can also opt for:
- Radiations, whereby the abnormal tumor cells are destroyed using protons and x-rays (high-energy beams).
- Chemotherapy: In this treatment, the tumor cells are destroyed using strong drugs (taken orally or intravenously).
- Targeted drug therapy: This treatment blocks the abnormalities that are characteristically present only in the cancer cells.
In case you have a concern or query you can always consult an expert & get answers to your questions!