Brain Tumors are elucidated as abnormal development of cells within skull vault or brain. Brain tumors comprise of all tumors within the cranium. They are formed by unnatural and uncontrolled cell division in the brain itself, but also sometimes in blood vessels, lymphatic tissue, in cranial nerves, in skull, pituitary gland and from congenital vest cells. Brain tumors can be classified into cancerous brain tumors (malignant) and non-cancerous tumor (benign). Malignant tumors are more serious & aggressive than benign tumors. There are nearly 140 types of brain tumors that can develop within brain.
There is no specific cause of brain tumors. However, some root causes which may lead to brain tumor include the following.
People with a brain tumor do not show any particular symptoms. However, symptoms of brain tumor can be at times prevalent, due to pressure of tumor on spinal cord or brain, or discrete due to deferment of normal functioning of a particular portion of brain. Ordinarily, a brain tumor is not detected until symptoms begin but people with Brain Tumors often experience the following symptoms.
General Symptoms of Brain Tumors include the following
Symptoms that may be specific to the area of Brain Tumor include the following.
Surgeons use several tests to diagnose a Brain Tumor and evaluate if it has spread (metastasized) to other regions. Some tests also help to determine most effective treatment for Brain Tumors. Doctors may dwell upon following factors when deciding a diagnostic test for patients.
Most brain tumors are not diagnosed until symptoms appear. The neuro-oncologist can use these symptoms as an intimation of presence of a brain tumor. In addition to querying the patient for comprehensive history and performing a physical examination, neuro-oncologist may consider some other tests to determine the grade of brain tumor. Most effective method to diagnose a brain tumor is with a MRI Scan (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), however, Computed Tomography Scans (CT Scans) are also used even today. Positron-Emission Tomography Scan (PET) is widely used to yield more detailed information about a brain tumor while a person is undergoing treatment or if there is reappearance. Basic way of deciding the type of brain tumor is with a pathology lab report following a surgery or biopsy.
Treating brain tumors can be difficult if the tumor is located near a soft portion of the brain. Moreover, radiation therapy can destroy healthy tissue during treatment. However, research in the past few decades has enhanced chances of survival of patients with brain tumors. Sophisticated surgeries, a good understanding of tumors that respond to chemotherapy, and absolute delivery of radiation have eventuated in a better quality of life for patients with brain tumors.
Surgery is a standard and most common type of treatment for a brain tumor and is probably the only remedy for benign brain tumors. Removal of brain tumors can mollify severe symptoms if it is creating tension on parts of brain. There have been speedy advances in brain tumor surgery, including the use of enhanced imaging devices to give doctors more tools to perform surgery. It is growingly common to execute operation under brain-awake conditions even for tumors that are near the speech center. Normally, patient is awakened when brain is exposed, and dedicated electrical stimulation techniques are used to discover speech center and thus avoid causing any serious harm while taking out the tumor. Brain tumor surgery demands removal of portion of the skull, a surgical procedure which is called Craniotomy. Patients own bone will be used to dress the opening in skull after removal of tumor. For some types of brain tumor, analysis can assist in determining if radiation therapy or chemotherapy will be suitable.
Use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells is called radiation therapy. Doctors may use radiation therapy along with brain tumor surgery so as to slow down the rate of growth of aggressive brain tumors.
Depending upon location & size of tumor, oncologists may choose any of these radiation techniques. Young children are not usually good candidates for these therapies because of great risk of damage to their developing brains.
Also read: Cost of Brain Tumor Surgery
Chemotherapy is simply the use of drugs to destroy cancerous cells. Goal of chemotherapy is to kill harmful cells and slow the tumor’s growth. Main disadvantage of chemotherapy is that it affects normal cells as well as cancer cells. Its side effects include loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, low blood count, numbness and tingling in the hands or feet, bleeding after minor cuts or injuries, severe headaches, darkening of the skin and hair loss. These side effects usually disappear when treatment is complete.
Best efforts are taken to boost immune system of patients in order to improve their ability to fight brain tumors. Various methods are being utilized, such as using dendritic cells or vaccines aimed against a particular molecule that is expressed on tumor cells.
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