An abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine disrupts the proper functioning of the brain. This abnormal growth is called as a brain tumour.
Generally, the cells in our body grow, age, die and are replaced by new cells. This cycle is disrupted by the formation of tumours and cancer. In the case of a tumour, more cells are added to the mass because the tumour continues to grow, but old and damaged cells do not die.
This article explains six important facts about brain tumours that you must know.
Fact 1: There are several types of brain tumours
While some brain tumours are begin, others can be cancerous. Brain tumours that emerge from the different cells that form the brain and central nervous system are the primary brain tumours. Gliomas and astrocytic are the most common type of adult brain tumours and these tumours build from astrocytes and different types of glial cells that help keep nerves healthy.
A cancer that forms in other parts of the body and spread to the brain are the secondary or metastatic brain tumours. Meningeal tumours are the next most common adult type of brain tumour. These are formed in the meninges, the outermost layer covering the brain. Meningeal tumours can be life threatening as they multiply rapidly and spread around the brain tissue.
Fact 2: There is no definite cause
The exact cause of a brain tumour is not known. In fact, a majority of people who suffer from brain tumour do not have any proper known risk factor for the ailment. However, the following factors are known to trigger the risk of the disease:
- Exposure to ionizing radiation, which is used to treat specific cancers. These radiations are also released during nuclear explosions.
- In some cases, brain cancer is linked to genetic mutation.
- People who are suffering from HIV or AIDS are at a greater risk of being diagnosed with a brain tumour.
- Women taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT) after menopause may have a slightly increased risk of developing meningioma, in comparison to women who have never been on HRT.
- Women taking oral contraceptives may also have a higher risk of meningioma, but the link has not been confirmed yet.
- Radio frequency energy emitted by mobile phones is absorbed by brain tissues and can increase the risk of brain cancer.
Fact 3: Symptoms may differ among patients
Typically, the symptoms of brain tumour depend on their type, location and size of the tumour. Headaches, numbness extremities in the arms or legs, memory problems, seizures, muscle jerking, mood and personality swings, balance and walking difficulty, nausea and vomiting tendency, facial paralysis, changes in speech, hearing or vision are some of the common symptoms of brain tumours.
Fact 4: It can affect any age group
People from any age group can be diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, generally adults who are more than 40 years of age are more likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Fact 5: There are different ways to diagnose brain tumour
If a person shows any of the symptoms that indicates brain tumour, the doctor may recommend some medical tests. Typically, brain tumours are diagnosed through:
- Neurological tests where the doctor examines levels of alertness, vision, hearing and strength of muscles
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which captures detailed images of the inside of the brain
- Computed tomography (CT) scans
- Spinal tap
- Biopsy to determine whether the tumour is cancerous or not
Fact 6: Treatment depends on the age
Treatment of a brain tumour is done on the basis of the size, type and location of the tumour. In addition, the age and health condition of the patient is kept in mind while selecting the technique of treatment. There are various options for treating brain tumour, including chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy.
When a patient is diagnosed with a brain tumour, it is very difficult to handle the change. It is essential for the family, friends and other support groups to provide appropriate mental support to cope with the change that is brought about by such diagnosis.