Brain Tumors

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When patients first find out they have a brain tumor, they experience stress and anxiety. But thanks to the present research done, it is useful to know that there are significant developments in the treatment of these tumors with each passing year. In addition, the treatment chances for brain tumors are higher than for tumors in other organs.

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of the brain tissue. The tumor occurs either from brain cells or spreads to the brain from another part of the body with blood. A brain tumor is  referred to as benign or malignant, according to its behavior. Benign tumors is well-circumscribed, slow-growing, and doesn’t damage the surrounding tissue by spreading to it. It usually doesn’t recur after being removed by surgery. On the other hand, malignant tumors grow quickly, spread to the surrounding tissues, and their boundaries aren’t clear. Tumors originating from brain cells, as like tumors from other parts of the body, very rarely spread to other organs. Lung, breast, and colon tumors are those who most often spread to the brain.

 

How Do Brain Tumors Occur?

 

Studies indicate that the abnormalities in genes which control the cell cycle; causes uncontrolled cell proliferation. The risk of developing a tumor of the central nervous system is high in genetic diseases such as Neurofibromatosis, von Hippel-Lindau disease, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and retinoblastoma. Studies show that families whose children have brain tumors have a history of being exposed to chemicals in the past. Some chemicals may change the gene structures that protect us from cancer. High incidence of some types of tumors have been found in people working in petroleum refining, tire production, and chemists. However, the relations of chemical toxins with these tumors have not yet been proven conclusively.

 

Symptoms of Brain Tumors

 

Along with symptoms varying from person to person, most symptoms depend on the increase of pressure in or around the brain. The most common symptoms brain tumors are listed below:

  • Headache

  • Vomiting (especially in the mornings)

  • Nausea

  • Personality changes

  • Depression

  • Drowsiness, dizziness

  • Epilepsy (Sara) seizures

  • Vision loss

  • Speech disorder

  • Loss of balance

  • Hearing loss

  • Weakness in the arms and legs

 

Diagnosis

 

After medical history and neurological examination; diagnosis can be put easily with the help of high-tech devices such as CT, MR, and PET.

 

Treatment of Brain Tumors

 

Surgery is usually the first treatment option for brain tumors. The aim of surgery is to remove the tumor as much as possible, while maintaining neurological functions. The type of tumor cells are determined by taking a biopsy. Radiotherapy or chemotherapy is added to the treatment plan, according to the type of tumor. Steroids are particularly given in the presence of brain edema. Antiepileptics are given to prevent epilepsy.

 

New Treatment Methods

 

Stereotactic radiosurgery: High doses of radiation beams are focused on the tumor area. Cobalt rays or photon beams from linear accelerators are used.

Gene therapy: A special gene added to a virus is injected into the brain tumor. Later on, cancer cells infected with the virus are killed using antiviral drugs.

 

Prognosis of Brain Tumors

 

Prognosis may vary according to:

  • Tumor type

  • Duration of the disease

  • Tumor location and size

  • Whether there is metastasis

  • Tumor’s response to therapy

  • Age of the patient, whether there is an additional diseases

  • Many differences may be seen in life span, from person to person.

Tags: Brain tumor, conditions

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