Brain tumour refers to an abnormal mass of cells in the brain. Brain tumours and spinal tumours are collectively known as central nervous system tumours. These tumours can be benign or malignant. While some tumours glow slowly, others are quick growing. Only about a third of brain tumours are malignant. Whether they are malignant or not, these tumours tend to adversely affect brain function and the overall health of the person if they grow large enough to exert pressure on the surrounding blood vessels, nerves, and tissues.
Tumours developing inside the brain are known as primary tumours, while those that metastasize to the brain after developing in a different part of the body are known as metastatic brain tumours or secondary tumours.
More than 150 types of brain tumours have been identified. Primary brain tumours are categorised as glial or non-glial and malignant or benign. Some brain tumour can also develop in your spinal cord.
Following are the brain tumours that are usually benign:
Around 78% of malignant primary brain tumours are gliomas. They arise from the glial cells that support nerve cells. Following are the types of gliomas:
Brain tumours can occur at any age and affect both children and adults. They are more commonly seen in males than in females. Meningioma, a benign tumour is the only brain tumour that is more common in females. Glioblastoma, one of the most serious types of brain tumour, is more common in elderly people.
Tumours that originate in the brain itself are called primary brain tumours. These are relatively rare brain tumours.
Brain tumours can result in serious complications, whether they are benign or malignant. This is because the skull has a rigid structure that prevents the tumour from expanding. Apart from that, if the tumour is located in parts of the brain that regulate important functions, the following symptoms may occur:
Following are some of the ways by which brain tumours cause problems:
Even though brain tumours may give rise to the above-mentioned complications, some patients with brain tumours don’t have any symptoms as their tumours don’t enlarge enough to press on the surrounding structures.
Some patients with brain tumours don’t experience symptoms, especially if the size of the tumour is too small. The signs and symptoms vary depending on the size, type, and location of the tumour. Following are some commonly seen symptoms of brain tumours:
It is known that brain tumours form when certain genes on the chromosomes are damaged and cease to function optimally, but it is not clear why this occurs. The DNA located on the chromosomes directs the cells all over the body into performing their functions. For example, it tells them when to multiply or divide or when to grow or die.
When the DNA of the brain cells changes, new instructions are received by the brain cells. The body forms abnormal brain cells that multiply and grow at an abnormally faster rate and sometimes they live longer than usual. As this occurs, the abnormal cells proliferate and accumulate in the brain, giving rise to a mass of cells called a tumour.
In certain cases, a person may have changes in some of these genes since birth. Environmental factors like previous cancer treatment or exposure to large amounts of radiation may then cause further damage. In some other cases, the only cause may be the environmental injury to the genes. There are some inherited congenital conditions associated with brain tumours including:
Only around 5-10% of patients with brain tumours have a family history for the same.
Establishing a diagnosis of a brain tumour is relatively complicated and involves several specialists. However, in some cases, doctors may discover brain tumours while carrying out investigations for other medical problems.
If you suspect having symptoms pointing towards a brain tumour, your doctor will perform a complete physical examination and then ask you questions about your symptoms, current and past medical conditions, family medical history, surgeries and medical treatments, and current medications. They may also carry out a neurological examination, involving looking for changes in your mental status, balance and coordination, vision, hearing, and reflexes. These changes may correlate with the part of the brain affected by the tumour.
If your doctor also suspects that you may be having a brain tumour, he will suggest a brain scan, most often an MRI.
The treatment for brain tumours depends on several factors, including:
Benign brain tumours are generally successfully treated with surgery and do not recur. Doctors usually use a combination of several treatment modalities to treat a tumour. Following are some of the treatment options for brain tumours:
Getting to know that you have a brain tumour can be quite stressful and even scary. All brain tumours aren’t malignant. In fact, more than a half of those are benign. However, they can still lead to serious complications. Your healthcare team will formulate a tailored and individualised treatment plan to minimize the symptoms of the tumour and improve your life quality.
The prognosis of brain cancers greatly depends upon the stage at which they are diagnosed, and the treatment is started. Family support and the positive attitude of the patient with a will to change the course of the disease also play a role in improving the treatment outcome. Our cancer care team aims not only to cure the patient physically but provides mental support also, making Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Indore the best cancer hospital in Indore.