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A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt a proper brain function. It can either arise in the brain or can be a tumor spread from a different part of your body. Brain tumor rates often increase with age, but unlike most other cancers can occur more frequently across any age group. There are over a 120 different types of brain tumors, which can be cured through surgery, gamma knife (non invasive) or radiation therapies.
If a brain tumor begins in the brain, then it called a ‘primary brain tumor’. If it spreads to the brain from some other location, then it’s known as secondary brain tumor. They can typically be found on imaging studies such as the MRI. Some aggressive tumors can have a lot of swelling associated with them whereas others may be slower growing and not too obvious.
Brain tumors arise due to abnormal cell growth that normally shouldn’t be in the brain, thereby forming a mass and leading to two major types of tumors.
This kind of tumor grows slowly and does not spread around. Benign brain tumors are often noncancerous and usually aren’t deeply rooted in the brain tissue. They aren’t aggressive and normally don’t spread to surrounding tissues, although they can be serious and even life threatening. Surgical removal (brain area affected) is safe and has a low probability of coming back once removed.
Malignant or Cancerous Tumor
They are life-threatening tumors as they spread around rapidly. Most malignant tumors are secondary cancers, which means they started in another part of the body and spread to the brain. Malignant tumors can be further classified under
– Primary & Metastatic.
Signs & Symptoms
Brain tumors can damage the cells around them by causing inflammation and putting increased pressure on the tissue under and around it, as well as inside the skull. The symptoms of brain tumor thus vary depending on the size, what part of the brain is impacted and the rate of growth at the area. Common symptoms include
Nausea & Vomiting
Impaired or Blurred Vision
Loss of Balance
Changes in personality and memory
It is important to note that because many of the symptoms of brain tumors are non-specific, just because you may exhibit one of these symptoms doesn’t mean that you have a brain tumor. However, if your symptoms are not resolving, or are not explained by anything else and progressive, it becomes important to consult a doctor.
Causes Or Risk Factors
Most of the time, doctors can’t determine the exact cause of a brain tumor. There are only a few known causes and risk factors for brain tumors in adults. Some of them could be due to
Exposure to radiation
Exposure to chemicals
Other environmental factors
Brain Tumor Diagnosis
In order to diagnosis a brain tumor, the doctor may begin by asking details about your recurring symptoms and noting your personal and family health history. A thorough neurological and physical exam can also conducted in case there is a reason to suspect a brain tumor. The doctor may request one or more of the following to determine the exact course of treatment for your tumor
- EEG (Electroencephalogram)
- CT (CAT) Scan
- Brain MRI
- Angiogram or MRA
Depending on the grade, overall medical history and severity of the tumor, a course of treatment can be suggested by your doctor. The treatment options can include
Oral medication (Steroids or other AED’s)
An early diagnosis of brain tumor can increase survival rates by about 70%, hence it becomes important to consult a doctor at the right time. People now being diagnosed with brain or spinal cord tumors have a better outlook due to the advancements and multiple options available for the treatment of brain tumors.
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