Brain Tumours

Enriching Lives

What is Brain Tumour?

Tumours are abnormal tissues which cells grow & multiply uncontrollably, causing dysfunction of the organ from which it arises.

Brain tumour either originate from the brain itself (Primary) or a cancer at distant site can reach to brain (metastatic).

Primary Brain tumours mainly of two types:

  1. Gliomas, grow from supporting cells of Brain.
  2. Common Gliomas are

    • Astrocytomas arise from star-shaped cells - Astrocytes. They can grow from anywhere in the brain or spinal cord.
    • Astrocytomas in adults commonly arise in the cerebrum. In children, they may occur in brain stem, cerebrum, or cerebellum.
    • A grade IV astrocytoma is usually called glioblastoma multiforme.

    • Oligodendrogliomas arise from myelin producing cells. They commonly arise from cerebrum and are slow growing and usually do not spread into surrounding brain tissue.
    • Ependymomas are usually seen usually in the lining of the ventricles or in spinal cord and are common in childhood and adolescence. Although these tumours can develop at any age.
  3. Non-glial Tumours compresses surrounding brain tissue than invading them, as they grow.
    • Meningioma are usually very slow growing, benign tumours that grow from the meninges. Meningioma may grow up to a very large size before they cause symptoms. They occur often in women between 30 and 50 years of age.
    • Schwannomas are benign tumours of Schwann cells, which produce myelin - a protective layer surrounding the peripheral nerves. Acoustic neuromas are a type of schwannoma, which occurs inside the skull. They occur mainly in adults. These tumours affect women twice as often as men.
    • Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumours that develop near to the pituitary gland/hypothalamus and can press on or damage the hypothalamus and affect vital functions. These tumours are usually seen in children & adolescents.
    • Germ cell tumours arise from primitive sex cells. The most common germ cell tumour in brain is germinoma.
    • Pineal region tumours occur in approximation to pineal gland and can be either slow growing (pineocytoma) or fast growing (pineoblastoma). The pineal region is very difficult to reach, and these tumours often cannot be removed.

More than 500 new cases are diagnosed with primary brain tumour everyday worldwide and even more are diagnosed with metastatic brain tumour. Incidence & prevalence of brain tumour is growing in India.

Some Important Things to Know About Brain Tumour!

  1. Brain tumour can occur at any age.
  2. The exact cause of brain tumour is not clear.
  3. The symptoms of brain tumour depend on their size, type, and location.
  4. The most common types of primary brain tumour among adults are Astrocytoma, Meningioma, and Oligodendroglioma.
  5. Brain and nervous system tumours account for 21 percent of all childhood cancers. The most common type of primary brain tumours in children are Medulloblastoma, Astrocytoma, Ependymoma, and Brain Stem Glioma.
  6. Family history and high dose X-rays are risk factors for brain tumour.
  7. Brain tumours are diagnosed based on medical history, physical examination and MRI scanning.
  8. Treatment options include surgery/radiotherapy/chemotherapy or their combination and best mode is decided based on type/size/location of tumour among other factors and can vary from patient to patient.

What are the Symptoms of the Brain Tumour?

Symptoms of Brain tumours vary depending on the part of the brain they affect. Some common symptoms are headaches, seizures, problem with vision, vomiting, difficulty in walking and mental changes, difficulty in speaking and sensation.

It is estimated that nearly 12,800 deaths will be associated with malignant tumours of the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. Fortunately, new and sophisticated techniques have led to advances in the treatment of brain tumours. Tumours that were once inoperable in the brain can now be accessed and removed, sometimes completely, and often without impaired neurological function.

How are Brain Tumours Diagnosed?

Sophisticated imaging techniques can pinpoint the tumour and determine whether it's growing or shrinking. Diagnostic scanning include CT scan and MRI, which are also used during surgery to guide tissue biopsies and tumour removal. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) is used to examine the tumor's chemical profile and see whether the tumour is responding to treatment. PET scan can help detect recurring brain tumours.

What are the Treatments for Brain Tumours?

Surgery

Surgery is the main form of treatment for brain tumours. The goal is to remove the entire tumour, whenever possible, without damaging critical neurological functions. Tumour may recur if any tumour cells are left behind. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are generally used as secondary treatment for tumours that cannot be cured through surgery alone.

Stereotactic Radio Surgery
Stereotactic radio-surgery is a treatment option for some types of brain tumours. A high concentration of radiation is directed to the tumour in order to stop its growth. It is useful in patients with many small metastatic brain tumours.

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Condition & Treatment

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