Brain Tumor – What is it, Symptoms and Treatments!

Brain Tumor – What it is, Symptoms and Drug Treatments. Also, Brain Tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in or near your brain. There are many different types of brain tumors . Some brain tumors are non-cancerous (benign) and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant).

Brain tumors can start in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can start in other parts of the body and spread to the brain (secondary or metastatic, brain tumors ).

How quickly a Brain Tumor grows can vary greatly. The rate of growth, as well as the location of a Brain Tumor , determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system. Brain Tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.

Brain tumour

Causes of Brain Tumor:  Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or in nearby tissues such as the brain covering membranes (meninges), cranial nerves, pituitary gland, or pineal gland. Primary brain tumors start when normal cells acquire errors (mutations) in their DNA.

These mutations allow cells to grow and divide at increased rates and continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells, which forms a tumor.

Primary brain tumors are much less common than secondary brain tumors, in which the cancer starts elsewhere and spreads to the brain. There are many different types of primary brain tumors. Each is named after the type of cells involved. Examples include:

  • Gliomas: These tumors start in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymoma, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas, and oligodendrogliomas.
  • Meningiomas: A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Most meningiomas are not cancerous.
  • Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas): These are benign tumors that develop in the nerves that control balance and hearing that lead from your inner ear to your brain.
  • Pituitary adenomas: These are mostly benign tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors can affect the pituitary hormones with effects throughout the body.Medulloblastomas: These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back of the brain and tends to spread through spinal fluid. These tumors are less common in adults, but they do occur.
  • PNETs: Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs) are rare, cancerous tumors that start in embryonic (fetal) cells in the brain. They can occur anywhere in the brain.
  • Germ Cell Tumors: Germ cell tumors can develop during childhood, where the testes or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors move to other parts of the body, such as the brain.
  • Craniopharyngiomas: These rare noncancerous tumors start near the pituitary gland in the brain, which secretes hormones that control many bodily functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures close to the brain.

Brain Tumor Symptoms:  The signs and symptoms of a Brain Tumor vary greatly and depend on the size, location, and growth rate of the Brain Tumor . General signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors can include:

  • New onset or change in headache pattern
  • Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision
  • Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or leg
  • Difficulty with balance
  • speech difficulties
  • Confusion in everyday affairs
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures, especially in someone who has no history of seizures
  • hearing problems

Brain Tumor  Treatment : Treatment for a Brain Tumor depends on the type, size and location of the tumor , as well as your overall health and your preferences.

Surgery:  If the Brain Tumor is located in a location that makes it accessible for an operation, your surgeon will work to remove as much of the Brain Tumor as possible. In some cases, the tumors are small and easy to separate from the surrounding brain tissue, making complete surgical removal possible.

In other cases, the tumors cannot be separated from the surrounding tissue or are located near sensitive areas in your brain, making surgery risky. In these situations, your doctor removes as much of the tumor as is safe. Even removing a part of the Brain Tumor  can help reduce its signs and symptoms.

Surgery to remove a Brain Tumor carries risks, such as infection and bleeding. Other risks may depend on the part of the brain where the tumor is located. For example, surgery on a tumor near nerves that connect to your eyes could pose a risk of vision loss.

Radiation Therapy: Radiation  therapy uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill tumor cells . Radiation therapy can come from a machine outside your body (external beam radiation) or, in very rare cases, radiation can be placed inside your body near your Brain Tumor (brachytherapy).

External beam radiation can focus only on the area of ​​your brain where the tumor is located, or it can be applied to your entire brain (whole brain radiation). Whole brain radiation is most often used to treat cancer that has spread to the brain from some other part of the body.

The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the type and dose of radiation you receive. Common side effects during or immediately after radiation include fatigue, headaches and scalp irritation.

Radiosurgery:  Stereotactic radiosurgery is not a form of surgery in the traditional sense. Instead, radiosurgery uses multiple beams of radiation to give a highly focused form of radiation treatment to kill tumor cells in a very small area. Each beam of radiation is not particularly powerful, but the point where all the beams meet – in the Brain Tumor – receives a very large dose of radiation to kill the tumor cells .

There are different types of technology used in radiosurgery to deliver radiation to treat brain tumors, such as a Gamma knife or linear accelerator (LINAC). Radiosurgery is typically done in one treatment, and in most cases, you can go home the same day.

Chemotherapy:  Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill tumor cells . Chemotherapy drugs can be given orally in pill form or injected into a vein (intravenously). The chemotherapy drug most often used to treat brain tumors is temozolomide (Temodar), which is taken as a pill.

Many other chemotherapy drugs are available and may be used depending on the type of cancer. Chemotherapy side effects depend on the type and dose of medication you receive. Chemotherapy can cause nausea, vomiting and hair loss.

Targeted Drug Therapy: Targeted  drug treatments focus on specific abnormalities present in cancer cells. By blocking these abnormalities, specific drug treatments can cause cancer cells to die.

One targeted drug therapy used to treat a type of brain cancer called glioblastoma is bevacizumab (Avastin). This drug, given through a vein (intravenously), stops the formation of new blood vessels, cutting off the blood supply to a tumor and killing the tumor cells .

Medications Corticosteroids are used to treat a benign brain tumor that occurs in people with a genetic disease called tuberous sclerosis. Everolimus blocks an enzyme in the body that plays a role in the growth of cancer cells.

Corticosteroids help reduce brain swelling, as well as relieve headaches and other symptoms. The treatment is continuous and can only be stopped with the approval of the doctor.

Rehabilitation after Treatment:  As brain tumors can develop in parts of the brain that control motor skills, speech, vision and thinking, rehabilitation can be a necessary part of recovery. Your doctor may refer you to services that can help, such as:

  • Physical therapy can help you regain lost motor skills or muscle strength.
  • Occupational therapy can help you get back to your normal daily activities, including work, after a Brain Tumor or other illness.
  • Speech therapy with specialists for speech difficulties (speech pathologists) can help if you have difficulty speaking.
  • Tutoring for school-aged children can help children deal with changes in their memory and thinking after a Brain Tumor.

Useful links: 

Alternative Medicine:  Little research has been conducted on complementary and alternative brain tumor treatments. Alternative treatments have not been proven to cure brain tumors. However, complementary treatments can help you deal with your brain tumor and its treatment. Talk to your doctor about your options. Some complementary treatments that can help you cope include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Meditation
  • music therapy
  • relaxation exercises

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