Diseases and what they mean

Brain Tumor

A brain tumor, or tumor, in the terms of science is known as an intracranial solid neoplasm but in normal language we can say it is an abnormal growth of cells within the brain itself but either in the central spinal canal or in the cranium. Brain tumors may also spread from cancers primarily located in other organs (metastatic tumors).

Brain tumors are classified depending on:

  • The location of the tumor
  • The type of tissue involved
  • How Brain Tumor Occurs

    Primary brain tumors include tumor that starts in the brain from brain cells, membranes around the brain (meninges), nerves, or glands. An abnormal and uncontrolled cell division takes place inside the brain itself, but also starts to occur in lymphatic tissues, cranial nerves, blood vessels, skull, pineal gland or pituitary gland. Neurons or Glial cells (which include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, and ependymal cells) are some of the cells which are also present inside the brain itself. Tumors can directly destroy brain cells and can also damage cells by producing inflammation, placing pressure on other parts of the brain, and increasing pressure within the skull.

    Types of Brain Tumor

    • 1. Malignant Tumor
    • 2. Benign Tumor

    Now the question arises is:-

    Question: What the difference between malignant and benign?

    Answer: Malignant and benign are medical terms that are often confused with the other.

    1. Malignant Tumor: - Malignant is cancerous. Malignant tumors arise when one or some of the body's own cells start behaving abnormally. Malignant tumors can invade and destroy nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

    The symptoms of a malignant brain tumor depend on how big it is and where it is in the brain.
    • Pressure on the brain.
    • Headaches and seizures (fits).
    • Irritability, drowsiness, apathy or forgetfulness
    • Partial loss of vision or hearing
    • Hallucinations
    • Vomiting, which is sometimes sudden and for no apparent reason
    • Dizziness
    Treatment for Malignant Tumor

    Malignant brain tumor must be treated as soon as possible. This may be treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However, there is a possibility that malignant tumors often return. The outcome for malignant brain tumors depends on many factors, such as the type and location of the tumor and how ill you were when diagnosed.

    2. Benign Tumor: -

    Benign is not cancerous. Benign tumors may grow larger but do not spread to other parts of the body.

    Symptoms of Benign Tumor
    • Compression of blood vessels or vital organs
    • Itching
    • Bleeding or blood loss causing anemia
    • Pressure causing pain or dysfunction
    • Cosmetic changes
    • Obstruction, e.g., of the intestines
    • 'Hormonal syndromes' resulting from hormones secreted by the tumor
    Treatment for Benign Tumor

    Some benign tumors don't require any treatment at all but sometimes removed if are causing things such as seizures or discomfort because of the positioning of the tumor. If a benign tumor is causing a health risk, or cosmetic concern for the patient, then surgery is the most effective approach. There are some benign tumors that do not respond to chemotherapy or radiation therapy, although there are exceptions.

    Tumor common in Adults

    1. Gliomas Tumor: -Glial cells are the main cause of gliomas such as astrocytes, ependymal cells and oligodendrocytes.

    Gliomas are divided into three types:
    • Glioblastomas: -It is the most aggressive type of primary brain tumor.
    • Astrocytic tumors: - It includes astrocytomas (can be noncancerous), glioblastomas and anaplastic astrocytomas
    • Oligodendroglial tumors: -Some primary brain tumors are made up of both astrocytic and oligodendrocytic tumors. These are called mixed Gliomas.
    2. Meningiomas Tumor and Schwannomas Tumor: - Meningiomas and Schwannomas are two other types of brain tumor which are noncancerous, but still may cause serious complications and death from their size or location.

    These tumors have following characteristics:-
    • Occurs mainly between the age of 40 and 70
    • Schwannomas affect both genders equally but Meningiomas are more common in women.
    There are some primary brain tumors which are found in adults in very rare cases. These are: -
    • Craniopharyngiomas
    • Ependymomas
    • Pineal gland tumors
    • Pituitary tumors
    • Primary CNS lymphoma
    • Primary lymphoma of the brain
    • Primary germ cell tumors of the brain

    Symptoms of Tumor

    There are some tumors which do not show any symptoms until they are very large. The symptoms depend on the location, tumor's size, how far it has spread, and whether there is a swelling or not.

    Common symptoms are:

    • Changes in the person's mental function
    • Headaches
    • Seizures (i.e. fits, especially found in older adults)
    • Weakness in one part of the body
    • Changes in hearing, taste or smell
    • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, different temperatures, or other stimuli
    • Clumsiness and numbness in the body.
    • Confusion or memory loss
    • Difficulty in swallowing, writing or reading.
    • Personality, mood, behavior, or emotional changes.
    • Dizziness or abnormal sensation of movement (vertigo)
    • Eye problems
    • Eyelid drooping
    • Decreased vision
    • Pupils of different sizes
    • Double vision
    • Uncontrollable movements
    • Total loss of vision
    • Hand tremor
    • Loss of balance and coordination
    • Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually on just one side)
    • Trouble in walking, speaking or understanding others who are speaking.

    Symptoms of benign tumor and malignant tumor are also some common symptoms found in adults.

    Symptoms of Pituitary tumor are: -

    • Abnormal nipple discharge
    • Excessive body hair
    • Low blood pressure
    • Absent menstruation (periods)
    • Breast development in men
    • Obesity
    • Sensitivity to heat or cold.
    • Enlarged hands, feet
    • Facial changes

    Tests Suggested by doctors for Brain Tumor

    • CT scan of the head
    • MRI of the head
    • EEG
    • Examination of tissue removed from the tumor during surgery or CT-guided biopsy may confirm the type of tumor and examination of the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) may show cancerous cells.

    Treatment for Brain Tumor

    1. Surgery: -Primary brain tumors are often treated with surgery. Some tumors may be completely removed, but the tumors that are found deep inside the brain or that enter brain tissue may be debulked instead of removed. Debulking is a procedure to reduce the tumor's size. Tumors are hard to remove completely by surgery alone.

    2. Radiation therapy: - It is used to treat brain cancers but also increases the risk for brain tumors up to 20 or 30 years afterwards.

    3. Chemotherapy: - It may be used with surgery or radiation treatment.

    Risk Factors

    • Side effects of radiation treatments
    • Permanent, worsening, and severe loss of brain function
    • Side effects of medications, including chemotherapy
    • Loss of ability to interact or function
    • Brain herniation (often fatal)
    • Return of tumor growth.
    • Exposure to radiation at work or power lines, hormone replacement therapy, head injuries, smoking have NOT been proven to be risk factors.. The risk of using cell phones, cordless phones, and wireless devices are safe and do not increase the risk.

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