Brain tumor

Brain tumor

Understanding Brain Tumors

Brain tumor is a condition characterized by the growth of abnormal cells in or around the brain. These abnormal cells grow unnaturally and uncontrollably. However, tumors in the brain do not always turn into malignant tumors or cancer.

Brain tumor levels are divided from levels 1 to 4. The grouping is based on the behavior of the tumor. For example, judged by the speed of growth and how it spreads. For grades 1 and 2, brain tumors are classified as benign, and do not have the potential to become malignant.

Meanwhile at levels 3 and 4 it is different again. At this level, the tumor usually has the potential to become cancer. Therefore, this condition is often referred to as a malignant brain tumor or brain cancer .

Causes of Brain Tumors

Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or in tissue close to the tumor. Such as the membranes covering the brain (meninges), cranial nerves, pituitary gland, or pineal gland.

Primary brain tumors begin when normal cells develop changes (mutations) in DNA. Then the cell’s DNA contains instructions that tell the cell what to do. Mutations tell cells to grow and divide quickly, and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells that forms a tumor.

In adults, primary brain tumors are much less common than secondary brain tumors, where the cancer initially appears elsewhere and spreads to the brain. There are several different types of primary brain tumors. These types are based on the type of cells involved, namely:

Glioma

These tumors start in the brain or spinal cord. Includes astrocytoma, ependymoma, glioblastoma, oligoastrocytoma, and oligodendroglioma.

Meningiomas

This is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. Most meningiomas are not cancerous.

Acoustic neuroma

This is a benign tumor that develops on the nerves that control balance and hearing that lead from the inner ear to the brain.

Pituitary adenoma

This is a tumor that develops in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. This tumor can affect pituitary hormones which have effects throughout the body.

Medulloblastoma

This brain tumor most often occurs in children, although it can occur at any age. Medulloblastoma begins in the lower back of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid.

Germ cell tumors

These tumors can develop during childhood where testicles or ovaries will form. However, sometimes germ cell tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.

Craniopharyngioma

This rare tumor begins to grow near the brain’s pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to control body functions.

Brain Tumor Risk Factors

The cause of most brain tumors is not known for certain. However, there are several risk factors that can increase a person’s chances of experiencing a brain tumor, namely:

Age

The risk of developing a brain tumor increases with age. Most brain tumors occur in older people aged 85 to 89 years. However, some brain tumors are more common in children.

Radiation

Radiation exposure accounts for a small number of brain tumors. Some types of brain tumors are more common in people who have had radiotherapy, CT scans or head X-rays.

Family history

A small percentage of brain tumors occur in people with a family history of brain tumors. It could also be someone who has a family history of a genetic syndrome that increases the risk of brain tumors.

Brain Tumor Symptoms

Symptoms of a brain tumor can vary from person to person. The symptoms that sufferers complain about can be influenced by various things. Starting from the size, location of the tumor, and speed of growth. A brain tumor may not cause any symptoms if it grows slowly.

Common signs and symptoms caused by brain tumors include:

  • Experiencing headaches with a changing pattern.
  • Headaches that become more frequent and more severe.
  • Nausea or vomiting for no apparent reason.
  • Having vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or
  • loss of peripheral vision.
  • Gradual loss of sensation or movement in the arms or legs.
  • Difficulty maintaining body balance.
  • Difficulty speaking.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Confusion in dealing with everyday problems.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Inability to follow easy to understand commands.
  • Changes in personality or behavior.
  • Seizures.
  • Hearing problems.

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

To diagnose a brain tumor, the doctor will start with a medical interview and physical examination regarding the patient’s complaints. Apart from that, the doctor will also carry out neurological examinations such as examination of brain power, hearing or vision, and facial nerves.

Next, the doctor will carry out supporting examinations to see whether there is a tumor in the brain. Examinations carried out include CT scans, PET scans or MRI.

Brain Tumor Treatment

Treatment of brain tumors depends on several factors, including:

  • Location, size, and type of tumor.
  • Number of tumors.
  • Age of sufferer.
  • Overall health of the sufferer.

Benign (non-cancerous) brain tumors can usually be successfully removed with surgery and usually do not grow back. However, treatment depends on the neurosurgeon being able to safely remove all of the tumor.

Radiation therapy may be well tolerated by adults, but perhaps not by children. It is feared that radiation therapy risks hampering the normal development of a child’s brain, especially if the child is under the age of five.

Doctors usually use a combination of therapies to treat brain tumors. Brain tumor treatment options are:

Brain surgery (craniotomy)

Neurosurgeons can remove tumors through brain surgery.

Radiation therapy

High-dose X-rays can destroy brain tumor cells or shrink the tumor in this type of treatment.

Radiosurgery

This is a type of radiation therapy that uses highly focused radiation beams (gamma rays or proton rays) to destroy tumors. However, this treatment does not require an incision.

Brachytherapy

This treatment is a form of radiation therapy. The procedure involves surgery to place radioactive seeds, capsules, or other implants directly near the brain tumor.

Chemotherapy

This therapy consists of anticancer drugs that kill cancer cells in the brain and throughout the body. Sufferers will receive chemotherapy via injection into a vein or take it as a pill. Doctors usually recommend chemotherapy after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells, or to prevent the growth of remaining tumor cells.

Immunotherapy

This treatment, also called biological therapy, is a type of treatment that uses the body’s immune system to fight cancer. This therapy stimulates the immune system to be more effective.

Targeted therapy

With this treatment, drugs target specific features in cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Your doctor will recommend targeted therapy if you have difficulty tolerating the side effects of chemotherapy, such as fatigue and nausea.

Other treatments that help manage symptoms caused by brain tumors include:

Shunt

If the tumor causes pressure inside the skull to increase, the sufferer may need to have a shunt (a thin tube-like device) surgically placed in the brain. This tool functions to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.

Medicines such as mannitol and corticosteroids

These medications can help reduce pressure inside the skull and swelling around the tumor.

Palliative care

This is a specialized form of treatment that is useful for managing symptoms and increasing comfort.

Brain Tumor Complications

Severe brain tumors can interfere with quality of life and have the potential to become brain cancer. Brain cancer is a more serious disease because it can be life-threatening.

Brain Tumor Prevention

Unfortunately there is no way to prevent brain tumors. However, you can reduce your risk of developing a brain tumor by avoiding risk factors. Examples include smoking and excessive radiation exposure.

  • Here’s how to prevent brain tumors naturally:
  • Routinely carry out health checks.
  • Stop the smoking habit.
  • Implement a healthy lifestyle.
  • Avoid exposure to radiation rays.
  • Avoid consuming foods with preservatives and artificial sweeteners.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If you experience suspicious symptoms, immediately consult a doctor to get appropriate treatment.

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