A brain tumor is the cell growth in the brain that increases in a strange, uncontrollable way. They are graded based on how fast they grow and how likely they will return after the treatment.
Grade 1 and 2 tumors are low-grade tumors. Grade 3 and 4 tumors are high grades. They are classified into two types:
- Non-cancerous (benign) – these are lower grade, which means they grow slowly and are less likely to return after treatment
- Cancerous (malignant) – these are higher grade and either start as primary tumors in the brain or spread to the brain from other places (secondary tumors); they're more likely to grow back after treatment
The symptoms differ for each part of the brain affected. Sometimes, one may not have symptoms initially or develop very slowly. Common symptoms involve:
- Falling sick persistently
- Nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness
- Mental or behavioral changes (like memory problems or personality changes)
- Progressive weakness or paralysis
- Vision or speech problems
The cause of most brain tumors is unknown, but many risk factors may boost the chances of contracting one:
- Age – the risk increases with age (most brain tumors happen in 85 to 89 age groups), although some types of brain tumors are more prevalent in children
- Radiation – exposure to radiation accounts for a minimal number of brain tumors; some types of brain tumors are more common in those who have had radiotherapy, CT scans, or X-rays of the head.
- Family and genetic history/conditions – genetic disorders and inherited conditions increase the risk of getting a brain tumor.
Several tests and procedures are recommended upon suspicion of a brain tumor.
- A neurological examination: This might include studying vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength and reflexes. Problems in one or more areas like these may provide information about the brain area affected by a brain tumor.
- Imaging tests: MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging), among other tests, is most commonly used to diagnose brain tumors. Other imaging tests like computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) are recommended in certain situations.
- Biopsy: Collecting and testing a sample of abnormal tissue can be performed as part of an operation to remove the brain tumor, or a biopsy can be performed using a needle.
If one has a brain tumor, their treatment will depend on:
- the type of tumor
- its location in the brain
- size of it and the furthest it has spread
- how abnormal the cells are
- overall health and fitness
Treatments for brain tumors include:
- medicines to aid with symptoms
If diagnosed with a brain tumor, steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling around the tumor. Medicines can help with other symptoms of brain tumors, like seizures and headaches.
Surgery is usually used to remove brain tumors. Removing the whole tumor is not always possible, so the patient may need additional radiotherapy or chemotherapy to treat any abnormal cells that remain behind.
Treatment for non-cancerous tumors is often possible, and one can fully recover.
There's a slight possibility the tumor could return, so one must regularly follow up with appointments to monitor this.
- The incidence of brain cancers is found to be rare in India. Two or three out of 1,00,000 people are affected by the number of malignancies diagnosed.
- According to data, there are more than 120 types of brain tumors in total.
- Brain tumors vary in size, location, severity and symptoms depending on individuals.
- Brain tumors can occur at any age. However, it is more common in children aged 0-14.
- The exact cause of the brain tumor is still unknown.
- Tumors that appear in the brain and spinal cord are called Gliomas.
PGC Resolution: To educate and support individuals with a brain tumor diagnosis. Dedicated to funding research, raising awareness and supporting the families and friends of those diagnosed.