No one wills to hear the words, “it’s a brain tumor,” and in that stage, everything become different. You need to process the symptomatic diagnosis, experience a new and challenging vocabulary, and make decisions about a course of treatment in a short span of time.
A tumor develops the normal or abnormal cells and multiplies when they are not needed. A brain tumor is a mass of unnecessary cells growing in the brain.
There are two kinds of brain tumors:
1. Primary brain tumors, that starts and tends to stay in the brain.
2. Metastatic (Secondary) brain tumors, that begins as cancer elsewhere in the body and spreads to the brain.
Primary Brain Tumors:
A tumor that starts in the brain is a primary brain tumor. Gliomas for examples are primary brain tumors. There are over 120 different types of primary brain tumors but these are grouped into benign tumors and malignant tumors.
v Benign Brain Tumors:
A benign brain tumor consists of very slow-growing cells, usually has distinct borders and rarely spreads. However, a brain tumor composed of benign cells, but located in a vital area of the brain impacting the way that the area of the brain works, can be life-threatening although the tumor and its cells would not be classified as malignant.
v Malignant Brain Tumors:
A malignant brain tumor is usually rapidly-growing, invasive and life-threatening. Malignant brain tumors are sometimes called brain cancer. These can spread within the brain and spine. They rarely spread to other parts of the body. They can also shed cells that travel to distant parts of the brain and spine, by way of the cerebrospinal fluid.
Secondary brain tumors:
Cancers that have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body are called secondary brain tumors or brain metastases.
Cancers of the lung, breast, kidney, stomach, bowel (colon), and melanoma skin cancer can all spread to the brain. This happens because cancer cells break away from the primary cancer and travel through the bloodstream to lodge in the brain. There they can begin to grow into new tumors.
Symptoms depend on the tumor's size, location, how far it has spread, and whether there is brain swelling. The most common symptoms are:
- · Changes in the person's mental function.
- · Headaches with vomiting, confusion, weakness, or Numbness.
- · Seizures (especially in older adults).
- · Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness, and coma), hearing, taste, or smell.
- · Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures.
- · Confusion or memory loss.
- · Difficulty swallowing, writing or reading.
- · Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
- · Eye problems such as eyelid drooping, pupils of different sizes, uncontrollable eyemovement, vision difficulties.
- · Lack of control over the bladder or bowels.
- · Loss of balance or coordination, clumsiness, trouble walking.
- · Personality, mood, behavior, or emotional changes.
- · Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking.
Exams and Tests:
CT scan of the head, EEG, CT-guided biopsy (may confirm the type of tumor), Cerebral Spinal Fluid (CSF) & MRI of the head.
Diagnosis of brain tumor involves a neurological exam and various types of imaging tests. Imaging techniques include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Biopsies may be performed as part of surgery to remove a tumor, or as a separate diagnostic procedure.
Early treatment often improves the chance of a good outcome. Treatment depends on the size and type of tumor and your general health. Goals of treatment may be to cure the tumor, relieve symptoms, and improve brain function or comfort.
The standard approach for treating brain tumors is to reduce the tumor as much as possible using surgery, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy. Such treatments are typically used in combination with each other.
Tumors can be hard to remove completely by surgery alone. This is because the tumor invades surrounding brain tissue much like roots from a plant spread through soil. When the tumor cannot be removed, surgery may still help reduce pressure and relieve symptoms.
Comfort measures, safety measures, physical therapy, and occupational therapy may be needed to improve quality of life. Counseling, support groups, and similar measures can help people cope with the disorder.