The therapeutic intervention concerning brain tumor treatment includes surgical procedure, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Based on the tumor size, location and general health of the patient, appropriate treatment for brain tumor is determined by the doctor.
Brain tumor is a serious medical condition, characterized by growth of tumor cells, either in the central spinal canal, inside cranium or within the brain. A tumor in the brain can become life-threatening, if its size increases to a certain extent. The large-sized tumor may exert pressure to the surrounding brain parts, which are responsible for controlling vital functions of the body, such as respiration, heart function or blood circulation, etc. In order to avoid medical complications, prompt treatment is necessary immediately after diagnosis.
Based on the exact location of tumor, various types of brain tumor are classified. Those originating within the brain itself are collectively called gliomas, while benign tumors located in the lining of the brain (called meninges) are medically referred to as meningiomas. Metastatic brain tumors, on the other hand, are originated in other areas of the body, which slowly spread to the brain. The, symptoms in adults and children vary depending upon the tumor location, growth rate, extent of spreading and tumor size.
Manifested symptoms of brain tumor include:
- Frequent headache or increased headache intensity
- Headache that worsens with bending, sneezing and coughing
- Vomiting with or without nausea (particularly in morning time)
- Behavioral changes, personality changes and frequent mood swings
- Seizures without having any apparent reason
- Vision disorders including eye floater, flashes of lights and blurred vision
- Hearing problems including unexplained tinnitus and temporary hearing loss
- Speech difficulties with incidences of slurred and slow speech
- Loss of body coordination, balance and sensation
- Physical signs including one-sided weakness and immobility
Diagnosis and Treatment
The treatment actually starts with the diagnostic processes. Patients manifesting suspected brain tumor symptoms are examined thoroughly for confirmation. In order to locate the brain tumor and identify its size, a complete neurological exam is performed in conjunction with imaging tests of the brain. Based on the diagnostic results, the doctor outweighs the various treatment options, so as to come up with the best alternative. The three main approaches followed for the treatment of brain tumor are:
Brain Tumor Surgery
Surgical procedure is the most relevant treatment for majority of the patients with brain tumors. During the surgery, a team of experienced neurosurgeons perform craniotomy, thereby creating an opening in the skull. Through this cranial opening, the tumor is excised. If possible, the entire tumor is removed. However, partial removal is considered, in case tumor is present adjacent to vital brain tissues. Following surgery, further treatments with the help of radiation and drugs are recommended for better recuperation.
Brain tumor treatment by means of chemotherapy involves administration of drugs and medications, with an objective to kill cancerous cells. Also, the growth and spreading of tumor is inhibited by advocating medications. Generally, a combination of drugs or a single drug alone is given in specific dosage, either orally or by injections. If required, intrathecal injections are given directly into the spinal canal. Between two chemotherapy treatments, a recovery period is given to promote healing process of the healthy tissues. Thus, chemotherapy drugs are advocated at regular intervals.
Radiation Therapy Treatment
Radiation therapy is done, when the patient is not in a condition to undergo surgery. It is also followed after the brain tumor is removed partially. This method is aimed at killing the cancerous cells by exposing them to radiation. There are two types of radiation therapy – external and implant radiation. In the first case, a controlled dose of external beam is directed to the affected cells; whereas in implant type, a radioactive material is introduced directly in the tumor (temporary or permanent). Similar to chemotherapy, radiation therapy requires multiple treatments at specific time intervals.
According to the patient’s condition at the time of diagnosis, appropriate treatment is recommended by the doctor. Brain tumor prognosis or the prospect for a good recovery depends on various factors, like location, stage, whether it has spread or not and overall health of the patient. But, timely treatment is crucial to manage the symptoms, impair growth of tumor and also, to prevent spreading to the nearby areas.