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Glioma: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

What is the treatment? How is the treatment done? Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?) Who is not eligible for the treatment? Are there any side effects? What are the post-treatment guidelines? How long does it take to recover? What is the price of the treatment in India? Are the results of the treatment permanent? What are the alternatives to the treatment?

What is the treatment?

This disease is actually a type of brain tumor.

How is the treatment done?

The name ‘glioma’ is derived from the type of cells that have been affected by the tumor. Glioma occurs in the glial cells of the nervous system and also the spinal cord. Based on the type of glial cells that the tumor affects, the disease is further classified into three types – astrocytomas, ependymomas and oligodendrogliomas. Glioma is largely related to the brain and affects brain functionalities to a large level. It reduces brain functioning of a person by a drastic level. The type of glial cells involved in the tumor decides the severity of the disease. Also, the stage at which the person is currently suffering from decides the course of treatment.

There are many types of brain tumors that affect the brain. Among them there are primary and secondary tumors that affect the brain severely. In fact, these tumors are so severe that the person’s life is at risk and treatment depends on the stage of the tumor. If a person experiences loss of memory, uneven functioning of the brain, inability to balance oneself, inability to control urine functions, uncontrollable seizures, nausea and vomiting, blurred vision, it’s good to see a doctor at the earliest. Your doctor may suggest preliminary tests to ascertain your disease based on your symptoms and certain higher level tests to go deeper into the disease type. Your treatment may in most of the cases require a surgery to remove the tumor. Further on, after the surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are necessary for the tumor to be taken off completely from the body.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

A general physician may, based on your symptoms, provide preliminary information about brain tumor. But for the right diagnosis, he would refer you to a specialist who deals with the nervous system, in short a neurologist. A neurologist would be able to deal with your situation in depth and tell you the areas where your system is affected, how bad the situation is, recovery concerns, the right treatment to follow and medication. Among these tests, the first one would be an MRI scan which would allow the doctor to study the affected part in detail. The scan would also confirm the disease in you. After this, you would be required to undergo many neurological tests to determine your hearing abilities, control and co-ordination, reflexes and action, etc. Upon these test results, your doctor would be able to suggest the next line of treatment.

A brain MRI scan is conducted to find out the spread of the tumor. To check if the cancer has affected other body parts, your doctor would need you to take up several other tests which would study if your cancer has been spread. Usually glioma occurs from within the brain and it is not due to a cancer that was formed in some other part of the body and which happened to spread to the brain. In any case, you would require undergoing a biopsy test to determine if the tumor is malignant or benign.

Surgical procedures would be conducted to remove the portion of tumor from the affected portion. Surgery may not make it possible to remove the entire tumor without leaving a trace, it’s quite impossible to do that. So, to ward off any occurrence of the disease in the affected portion, surgery is usually followed by radiation therapy to kill the affected cells. With radiation therapy, chemotherapy is used in combination to prevent further growth/ kill existing tumor cells (if any). In chemotherapy, medicines in the form of drugs are given to the patient either orally or injected into the body to kill the tumor cells.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

Any person who has been diagnosed with glioma is eligible to get the treatment. The treatment only begins after a series of tests are conducted to ascertain the occurrence of glioma, whether it is in the primary/ secondary stages, to what extent the tumor has spread and whether it is cancerous or not. Surgery would require intensive procedures, followed by chemotherapy in combination with radio therapy.

Are there any side effects?

Any person who is not suffering from glioma is not eligible for the treatment. There are many types of tumors that affect the brain. If the glial cells of the brain are affected, only then the patient should see a neurologist for further treatment.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Some of the treatments mentioned above come with their own list of side effects. For instance, radiation therapy uses high beam of x-rays to target the left over tumor cells after surgery and in the process, kill them and prevent them from re-growing again. But on the flip side, there are very high chances of the non-tumor/healthy cells also to be affected by the radiation. Hence, the chance of the good and healthy cells also being destroyed is pretty high. This is one of the major side effects of the treatment. Apart from that, chemotherapy could show different side effects in different persons. Some of them may develop fatigue; some may develop a lack of appetite or result in hair fall and decrease in overall body weight.

How long does it take to recover?

Glioma is known to be a very rapidly spreading tumor if ist found to be cancerous. If it’s benign then it can be treated appropriately and care taken to prevent its re-growth. Apart from drug therapies, chemotherapy and radio-therapy sessions, and the patient needs to stay motivated to face the big challenges of the disease. Glioma not only affects the brain functioning alone, it also brings down sensory feelings, actions, reactions, control and co-ordination in one’s system. To accept the new changes one can choose from speech therapies, occupational therapies or physical therapies. Usually the treatment procedures are followed very strictly and it’s very important to adhere to the doctor’s advice.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

Glioma first of all, is a big life threatening disease. Based on the extent of spread of tumor, age of the patient, physical strength, whether it’s cancerous or benign, the recovery process is definitely a long one and would span several years too. It’s almost a slow, continual process where the patient shows slow signs of improvement, month by month. The recovery time varies from one person to another, but usually requires several years altogether.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

Surgery for removing the treatment varies from one hospital to another, but minimum cost for the surgery would start from 10000. Surgical procedures are very complex in this case and it entirely depends upon the affected person.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

The results of the treatment vary from one person to another. If a person has been diagnosed with cancerous tumor, there are high chances of re-growth and spread of the tumor after a few years of initial recovery. In case of benign tumors, the occurrence of tumor may well happen after a few years, so the results of the treatment may or may not provide permanent relief.

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