Your Guide to Brain Cancer

Brain cancer occurs due to the growth of abnormal cells in the brain. These cells form masses or tumors in the brain that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The tumors that begin in the brain are known as primary brain tumors, whereas the tumors formed by cancerous cells spreading to the brain from different parts of the body by the process of metastasis are known as secondary brain tumors. Brain cancer can become life-threatening, if not treated on time.

Symptoms of Brain Cancer

  • Onset and changes in patterns of headaches
  • Frequent and severe headaches
  • Unexplained vomiting and nausea
  • Issues with vision like double vision, blurred vision, or complete or partial loss of vision
  • Loss of sensation or movement in one or more extremities
  • Loss of body balance
  • Difficulties with speech
  • Persistent feeling of fatigue and tiredness
  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty with doing an everyday task
  • Inability in understanding simple commands
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Hearing problems

Sometimes the reason for these symptoms could be different from brain cancer but if you experience any of these for over a week, it’s advisable to get a check.

Causes and Risk Factors for Brain Cancer
The exact cause of brain cancer is yet unknown, but there are several risk factors that increase the chance of developing it, such as:

  • Exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation such as radiation from frequent medical imaging tests (CT scans, X-rays), radiation therapy treatments, etc.
  • Increased age
  • Family history of brain cancer
  • Long-term smoking
  • Exposure to fertilizers and pesticides
  • Diseases such as Epstein-Barr virus infection or mononucleosis
  • Metastasis (spread) from other cancers like lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and melanoma (skin cancer).

Types of Brain Tumors

Brain tumors are mostly categorized based on their location, whether they’re located in your brain or upper spine. Depending on their severity and growth rate they are graded from 1 to 4, with grade 1 reflecting the slowest growth and grade 4 reflecting the fastest.

Here are a few common types of brain tumors:

  1. Glioma – These brain tumors originate in the glial cells of the brain and account for almost 3 out of 10 cases of brain cancer.
  2. Meningiomas – These tumors are often benign and slow-growing that grow in the tissues surrounding your spinal cord and brain. It is the most common type of brain tumor in adults.
  3. Ganglioglioma – It is a slow-growing tumor found in glial cells and neurons, which are usually treated with surgery.
  4. Schwannomas – These are slow-growing benign tumors that form around the cranial nerves.
  5. Medulloblastoma – It is a fast-growing malignant tumor that forms around nerve cells of the brain. This type is commonly observed in children.

Diagnosis of Brain Cancer

If you experience any symptoms of a brain tumor, your doctor may perform one or more of the following tests to make a diagnosis:

  • Neurological Examination – It includes brain imaging tests, like CT, MRI, and Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans, to locate the tumor.
  • Lumbar Puncture – It is a procedure in which a small sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord is collected to check for cancer cells.
  • Brain Biopsy – It is a surgical procedure in which a small tissue sample from the tumor is removed for diagnostic testing under a microscope. It can also be used to determine if your tumor is malignant.

Treatment of Brain Cancer
Several treatment options are available for brain cancer. One can receive one or more treatments based on the size, type, and location of the brain tumor. Other factors like age and general health are also considered while deciding the treatment.

Brain tumor treatments include:

  • Surgery – Brain surgery is the most common type of treatment for brain tumors. Based on its location, the tumor is either partially or completely removed.
  • Chemotherapy – It uses drugs (chemotherapeutic agents) that destroy cancer cells in your brain and shrink your tumor. Chemotherapy is given intravenously or orally.
  • Radiation Therapy – In this type of treatment high-energy beams of X-rays are used to destroy tumor cells. Tumors present in inaccessible areas of the brain that cannot be removed surgically are treated with radiation therapy.
  • Combination Therapy – Sometimes chemotherapy and radiation therapy are used at the same time. This is called combination therapy.

Every treatment option for Brain cancer focuses on removing the tumor and then destroying any remaining cancer cells to prevent its recurrence. Recent developments and clinical trials in brain cancer treatments are improving brain cancer survival rates, especially for slow-growing tumors.

At CBCC Cancer Care, we have a specialized team for treating cancers. If the problem persists, consult with our experts now.

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