Unlocking the Secrets of Brain Tumor Management

A brain tumor is a clump of odd cells in your brain. These cells can be bad (malignant) or not bad (benign). But both can be dangerous.

Your skull is hard. If something grows in there, it can cause trouble.

When tumors grow, they push on your brain. This can hurt your brain and maybe kill you.

Malignant vs Benign brain tumors:

Malignant brain tumors are cancerous, grow fast, and can spread to other parts of your brain or central nervous system. This can cause serious problems.

Benign brain tumors grow slowly and don’t spread. They have clear borders and are easier to remove surgically. They usually don’t come back after removal.

Brain Tumor are of two types: Primary and Secondary

Primary brain tumors start in the brain and are usually not cancer. Secondary brain tumors, called metastatic tumors, happen when cancer spreads from other body parts like the lung or breast.

Understanding Primary Brain Tumors

Brain tumors start in your brain. They come from brain cells, membranes around your brain (called meninges), nerve cells, or glands like the pituitary or pineal. Tumors can be good or bad. The most common ones in adults are gliomas and meningiomas.

Gliomas form from glial cells. These cells help the central nervous system by supporting its structure, giving it food, and cleaning up. There are different types of gliomas:

  1. Astrocytomas: They start in the cerebrum.
  2. Oligodendroglial tumors: Often found in the frontal temporal lobes.
  3. Glioblastomas: The most aggressive, starting in supportive brain tissue.

Unlocking the Secrets of Brain Tumor Management

Other Primary Brain Tumors

Different kinds of brain tumors include:

  • Pituitary tumors, usually not harmful.
  • Pineal gland tumors, could be harmless or dangerous.
  • Ependymomas, usually not dangerous.
  • Craniopharyngiomas, often seen in kids, not dangerous but can cause vision changes and early puberty.
  • Primary CNS lymphomas, are harmful.
  • Primary germ cell tumors of the brain, could be harmless or dangerous.
  • Meningiomas, start in the brain’s outer layers, common in women.
  • Schwannomas, start in cells covering nerves, affect both men and women.
  • Meningiomas are more common in women.
  • Schwannomas affect men and women equally.
  • Most of these tumors aren’t cancerous but could cause problems due to their size and where they are.

Understanding Secondary Brain Tumors

Most brain cancers come from elsewhere in the body, spreading to the brain. Lung, breast, kidney, and skin cancers can all do this. They are always dangerous. Unlike benign tumors, they don’t stay put; they move around, causing trouble wherever they go.

Risk Factors for Brain Tumors

Family History: Sometimes, brain tumors can run in families. If many people in your family have had brain tumors, tell your doctor.

Age: Older people have a higher chance of getting brain tumors.

Chemical Exposure: Some chemicals at work can raise the risk of brain cancer. There’s a list of these chemicals made by experts.

Exposure to Radiation: Radiation can increase the risk of brain tumors. Cancer treatments with strong radiation and accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl can expose people to radiation.

No Chickenpox History: If you had chickenpox as a child, you might have a lower chance of getting a type of brain tumor called glioma.

Remember, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about any concerns or symptoms you may have.

Signs of a Brain Tumor

When a tumor presses on your brain, it can cause problems. Headaches are common. They might be worse in the morning or when you’re asleep. Coughing, sneezing, or exercising can make them worse too.

You might feel sick and vomit. Your vision might get blurry or double. Confusion and seizures can happen, especially in adults. One of your limbs or part of your face might feel weak.

You could also notice:

  • Clumsiness
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble reading or writing
  • Changes in how you hear, taste, or smell
  • Feeling less awake, even feeling drowsy or passing out
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Feeling dizzy or like things are spinning
  • Problems with your eyes, like droopy eyelids or unequal pupils
  • Shaking hands
  • Trouble keeping your balance
  • Losing control of your bladder or bowels
  • Feeling numb or tingly on one side of your body
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Changes in mood, personality, or behavior
  • Trouble walking
  • Weakness in your face, arm, or leg

These are all signs that something might be wrong with your brain. If you notice any of them, it’s important to see a doctor.

Signs of Pituitary Tumors

People with pituitary tumors may have:

  • Leaking nipples
  • No periods in women
  • Man boobs
  • Bigger hands and feet
  • Feeling too hot or cold
  • More body hair
  • Low blood pressure
  • Being overweight
  • Vision changes like blurriness
  • Tunnel vision

Diagnosing Brain Tumors: A Simple Guide

To find a brain tumor, doctors start by checking your body and asking about your health. They’ll carefully check your nerves, which come from the brain, to see if they work okay. Using a special tool called an ophthalmoscope, they’ll look into your eyes to spot any issues, like swelling of the optic nerve, caused by increased pressure in the skull.

Doctors also test:

  • Your muscle strength.
  • How well you move.
  • Your memory.
  • If you can do simple math.

These steps help them figure out if you might have a brain tumor.

Unlocking the Secrets of Brain Tumor Management

Understanding Brain Tumor Tests:

CT Scan: Doctors use CT scans to see inside your body in detail. They might use a special dye to make things clearer.

MRI: An MRI is similar but safer than a CT scan. It shows detailed pictures of your brain without radiation.

Angiography: This test involves injecting dye into your artery to see your brain’s blood supply, which helps during surgery.

Skull X-rays: These X-rays check for skull breaks and calcium deposits, which can indicate a tumor.

Biopsy: During a biopsy, a small piece of the tumor is taken to check if it’s harmful. This helps determine where the cancer started.

These tests help doctors understand brain tumors better, guiding treatment decisions and ensuring the best care for you.

Brain Tumor Treatment

When treating a brain tumor, doctors consider the type, size, and location of the tumor, along with your overall health. Surgery is often used for malignant tumors. The aim is to remove as much cancer as possible while protecting healthy brain tissue. 

Some tumors can’t be completely removed if they’re in a delicate spot. Even getting rid of part of the tumor can help. Surgery has risks like infection and bleeding. Benign tumors that are risky can also be removed. For tumors that spread from elsewhere, treatment follows the original cancer’s guidelines. 

Sometimes, surgery is combined with radiation or chemotherapy. After brain surgery, therapies like physical, occupational, and speech therapy can aid recovery.

Leave a Comment