According to reports, in India, every year 40,000-50,000 people are diagnosed with brain tumour. Of these 20 per cent are children. The average survival rate for all malignant brain tumour patients is only 34.4%. A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.There are more than 120 different types of brain tumours showing different symptoms. But, broadly, it may be mainly of two types:
- Primary Brain Tumour – Here the tumor begins in the brain tissue.
- Secondary Brain Tumour – If the tumour starts somewhere else in the body e.g. the lung, then spreads to the brain, it is known as a secondary brain tumour or metastases.
The signs symptoms of brain tumors depend on their size, type, and location.
Symptoms that depend upon the position of the tumour:
- Brain stem: Lack of co-ordination when walking, double vision, difficulty in swallowing and speaking and facial weakness in the form of one-sided smile or a drooping eyelid.
- Cerebellum: Flickering and/or involuntary movement of the eyes, vomiting and stiffness of the neck and uncoordinated walking and speech.
- Temporal lobe: Speech difficulties and memory problems and strange sensations – fear, blackouts, strange smells
- Occipital lobe: Gradual loss of vision on one side.
- Parietal lobe: Problems with reading, writing or simple calculations, navigation-related difficulties, numbness or weakness in one side of the body and difficulty in understanding words or speaking.
- Frontal lobe: Unsteadiness and weakness on one side of body, changes in personality and loss of smell.
What causes brain tumours?
The risk factors which may lead to Brain Tumours are:
- Genetics – A small portion of brain tumours occur in people with a family history of brain tumours or a family history of genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain tumours.
- Radiation – People who have been exposed to a type of radiation called ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain tumour.
If it’s suspected that you have a brain tumour, your doctor may recommend a number of tests and procedures, including:
- A neurological Exam – A neurological exam among other things may require checking your vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength and reflexes. Difficulty in one or more areas may provide clues about the part of your brain that could be affected by a brain tumour.
- Imaging tests -< /strong>Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is commonly used to help diagnose brain tumours. In some cases a dye may be injected through a vein in your arm during your MRI study. Other imaging tests may also be recommended, including computerized tomography (CT), Positron emission tomography (PET)
- Tests to find cancer in other parts of your body. If it’s suspected that your brain tumour may be a result of cancer that has spread from another area of your body, your doctor may recommend tests and procedures to determine where the cancer originated. One example might be a CT or PET scan to look for signs of lung cancer
- Biopsy – Many a time a stereotactic needle biopsy may be done for brain tumours in hard to reach areas or very sensitive areas within your brain that might be damaged by a more extensive operation. Your neurosurgeon drills a small hole into your skull. A thin needle is then inserted through the hole. Tissue is removed using the needle, which is frequently guided by CT or MRI scanning.The biopsy sample is then viewed under a microscope to determine if it is cancerous or benign. Sophisticated laboratory tests can give your doctor clues about your prognosis and your treatment options.
People with brain tumors have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people get a combination of treatments. The choice of treatment depends mainly on the following:
- The type and grade of brain tumor
- Its location in the brain
- Its size
- Your age and general health
Surgery is the removal of the tumour and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. It is usually the first treatment used for a brain tumour and is often the only treatment needed for a low-grade brain tumour. Removing the tumour can improve neurological symptoms, provide tissue for diagnosis, help make other brain tumour treatments more effective, and, in many instances, improve the prognosis of a person with a brain tumour
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy tumour cells. Doctors may use radiation therapy to slow or stop the growth of the tumour. It is typically given after surgery and possibly along with chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy tumour cells, usually by ending the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. The goal of chemotherapy can be to destroy tumour cells remaining after surgery, slow a tumour’s growth, or reduce symptoms. Chemotherapy is given by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating tumours with medication. Chemotherapy may also be given by a neuro-oncologist.