Brain tumors are graded on the scale of 1 – 4, according to how fast they grow and how likely they are to spread. A malignant tumor would either be at grade 3 or 4, while the benign or non-cancerous would be at grade 1 or 2. This article provides information on the symptoms, treatment, and survival rate of this condition.
The accumulation of abnormal cells/uncontrolled division of cells in the brain/any part of the brain (for example: pineal gland, blood vessels) or the central spinal canal, causes brain tumor. Moreover, cancer may spread from the other parts of the body and may affect the brain, thereby causing brain cancer. There are different types of tumors, some are non-cancerous, while others are malignant or cancerous. However, the latter is a serious condition and could be life-threatening, as it is invasive and can also spread to the other parts of the body.
There are two types of brain tumors, primary and secondary. The former are those which originate in the brain, while the latter originate in the other parts of the body and then spread to the brain. The names of the primary malignant, differ as per the affected part of the brain and the kind of cells, in which they first form. The most common among them are gliomas and they originate in the glial cells.
There are other types of gliomas, which do not originate in the glial cells and they are medulloblastoma, meningioma, schwannoma, and craniopharyngioma.
- Medulloblastoma starts in the cerebellum (common in children)
- Meningioma originates in the meninges
- Craniopharyngioma grows near the pituitary gland located at the base of the brain
- Schwannoma originates in the schwann cells. These cells are located in the linings of the nerves and are responsible for controlling the functions of hearing and balancing.
The symptoms vary, depending upon the location, type, and size of the tumor. The symptoms are visible, when the abnormal/affected cells damage certain areas of the brain or start pressing the nerves. Common symtoms include
- Continuous headaches, especially, severe in the morning
- Vomiting or nausea, change in hearing, vision, and speech
- Difficulty in walking and balancing
- Frequent mood swings and loss of memory
- Seizures, convulsions, and tingling sensation/numbness of the arms and legs
If you experience any of these symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Medical Assistance for the Condition
The treatment options vary as per the grade, size, location, and type of the tumor. The doctor would examine the cerebrospinal fluid first, as the affected cells can be detected at this location. The treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. A combination of aforementioned treatment options might be used, depending upon the type and stage of the tumor.
Surgery: Most of the brain tumors require surgery, wherein the affected cells are removed by opening the skull. All precautions are taken for the safety of the affected person, however, you would need to ask the doctor questions related to post-operative pain, the duration of stay in the hospital, long-term side effects if any, chances of complete recovery, and the recovery time. At times, surgery might not be possible and that’s when radiation therapy or chemotherapy is used.
Radiation: High energy rays like protons, gamma rays, or X-rays, are used to kill the affected cells. Radiation is aimed at the malignant cells and the surrounding tissues, so that the affected cells are killed. This therapy is followed even after the person has undergone surgical treatment, in order to ensure that the affected cells are killed.
Chemotherapy: Certain drugs are used to destroy the cancer cells. They might be injected or consumed orally, and spread throughout the body with the help of the blood. Usually the drugs are injected after regular intervals, in order to ensure that, there is a phase of recovery after each period of treatment.
Survival rate of people diagnosed with this condition, depends on the stage at which it’s detected, and how well the person responds to the treatment. There have been instances, where people have survived for years, after they have been treated. People have even lived longer than the expectancy predicted by the doctors.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.