A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the brain, which can be cancerous or non-cancerous (benign). It is defined as any intracranial tumor created by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division, normally either in the brain itself (neurons, glial cells (astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells), lymphatic blood vessels), in the cranial nerves (myelin-producing Schwann cells), in the brain envelopes (meninges), skull, pituitary and pineal gland, or spread from cancers primarily located in other organs (metastatic tumors).Brain tumours can have a wide variety of symptoms including seizures, sleepiness, confusion, and behavioral changes. Not all brain tumors are cancerous, and benign tumors can result in similar symptoms.
Types of Brain Tumour
Brain tumors are classified as grade I, grade II, or grade III, or grade IV. There most common type of primary brain tumors among adults are astrocytoma, meningioma, and oligodendroglioma. The most common type of primary brain tumors in children are medulloblastoma, grade I or II astrocytoma, ependymoma, and brain stem glioma.
• Benign Brain Tumour: are low grade (grade 1 or 2), which means they grow slowly and are less likely to return after treatment.
• Malignant Brain Tumour: are high grade (grade 3 or 4) and either start in the brain (primary tumours) or spread into the brain from elsewhere (secondary tumours); they're more likely to grow back after treatment.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Brain Tumour
Different parts of the brain control different functions, so symptoms will vary depending on the tumour’s location. The tumour's size and how fast it is growing also determine which symptoms a person will have.
In general, the most common symptoms of a brain tumour include persistent nausea vomiting and drowsiness, Severe persistent headache, mental or behavioural changes such as memory problems or changes in personality,Seizures or convulsions, Weakness or paralysis in one part or one side of the body, Vision changes, Confusion and disorientation.
Diagnosis of Brain Tumour
Most of the brain tumours are diagnosed on CT and MRI. To define the stage or complexity of brain tumour your Physician or Neurosurgeon may advise some further investigations.
Treatment for a brain tumor depends on a number of a factor which includes location and size of the tumor together with the age and general health of the patients. However, the treatment method and schedules may differ in adults and children.
Brain tumors are generally treated with surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The team for all the treatment includes a neurosurgeon, medical oncologists, radiation oncologist, nurses, a dietitian and social workers too, they all work together to provide the best possible care. Before the treatment starts the patients are given steroids, drugs that can lessen the swelling. Also, the patients are given anticonvulsant medicine to prevent to control seizure.
Surgery is the most common procedure that is performed to treat brain tumors. To do the procedure of removing a brain tumor a neurosurgeon makes an opening in the skull, the procedure is called craniotomy. If possible the surgeon tries to remove the entire tumor but if it cannot be removed completely without damaging the vital brain tissues, the surgeon may remove as much of the tumor as possible.
The partial or full removal of the tumor relives the symptoms by reducing the pressure on the brain. If it is partially removed it reduces the amount of tumor to be treated by other therapy like radiotherapy and chemotherapy. If the surgeon by no mean can remove the tumor, they do a biopsy. A small piece of the tumor is removed so that the pathologist can examine the type of cell it contains. This helps the doctor decide what kind of treatment should be given to the patients.
Sometimes surgeons use an unusual head frame and CT scans or MRI to identify the precise location of the tumor. The surgeons make a small hole in the skull and then direct the needle towards the tumor. Using such technology to do a biopsy or for treatment is called stereotaxis.
Radiation Therapy :
Also called radiotherapy, where high powered rays are used to damage the cancer cells and stop them from growing. It is also useful in destroying the tumor tissue that cannot be removed with surgery. It also kills the remaining cancer cells which are left after surgery. Giving the total dose of radiation over an extended period of time helps to protect healthy tissue in the area where the tumor is.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. Doctors can use just one drug or a combination. The drugs are often given orally or by injection into the blood vessels or muscles.