The brain is a part of the central nervous system. It is located in the skull. Its function is to receive, organise and distribute information for the body. It has a right half and a left half, which is called a hemisphere. When an abnormal growth or mass of cells are there in or around the brain, it is known as brain tumor. These brain tumors can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). So when these tumors grow large and press the surrounding nerves, blood vessels and tissues, it affects the brain’s functioning. Only one-third of the brain tumors are cancerous.
When tumors develop in the brain, they are known as Primary tumors. The tumors sometimes spread to the brain and other parts of the body; they are known as Secondary tumors or Metastatic tumors. Of all the brain tumors diagnosed, three-fourths of them are benign, and one-fourth of them are malignant.
Who are generally affected with Brain Tumors?
- Occurs more often in men than in women.
- Most common in older adults, but there is no age limit.
- Children under the age of 14, with brain tumors can lead to death.
TYPES OF BRAIN TUMORS
- BENIGN BRAIN TUMORS
a)Acoustic Neuroma: These tumors occur on the nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain.
b) Gangliocytoma: These central nervous system tumors form in the nerve cells-neurons.
c) Meningioma: This is the most common type of primary brain tumors. They develop very slowly and form on the layers of the brain and the spinal cord. Sometimes they are malignant.
The other benign brain tumors are Pituitary Adenoma, Chordoma and Pineocytoma. These grow in the pituitary gland, on the skull base and the bottom part of the spine and in the pineal gland.
- MALIGNANT OR CANCEROUS TUMORS
a) Glioma—These tumors surround and assist the nerve cells. Two-thirds of the cancerous primary brain tumors are Gliomas. They are by different names according to their growth in the brain. They are Astrocytoma, Glioblastoma, and Oligodendroglioma.
GLIOBLASTOMA, is the deadliest human cancer. This spreads very rapidly. Earlier the only radiotherapy was the treatment, and survival was only from six months to one year. Now, after chemotherapy was introduced survival rate has increased. This brain cancer forms in the brain or spinal cord.
b)Medulloblastoma—It forms at the base of the skull and grows fast. It is very common among children.
CAUSES FOR BRAIN TUMORS
- Defects in genes cause cells in the brain to grow uncontrollably and form a tumor.
- Exposure to radiation from X-rays or previous cancer treatment.
- Sometimes it is passed down from family members—hereditary.
SYMPTOMS OF BRAIN TUMOR
- Sometimes doctors discover it while treating for another cause.
- Symptoms are also when the tumor grows and presses the surrounding nerves or blood vessels.
- Headaches that start in the morning and disappear after vomiting.
- Behavioral changes in the person, often confused.
- No balance and coordination. Lack of concentration.
- Numbness or weakness on one part ort side of the body,
- Problem in hearing, vision or speech,
- Seizures, feel like sleeping,
- Memory loss, thinking, speaking or fail to understand the language.
RISK FACTORS OF BRAIN CANCER
Age—children generally develop brain cancer and also common among older adults.
family history—5% to genetic factors.
exposure to infections, viruses and allergies.
exposure to pesticides, oil products, rubber.
WHO recommends usage of the hands-free headset of phones for both adults and children.
TREATMENT FOR BRAIN TUMOR
- SURGERY—Surgery is the most common and the best treatment for larger or more aggressive brain cancer.
- There are other treatments. Radiation treatment is the main one to treat metastatic brain tumours, as it destroys cancer cells. Radiation therapy has become advanced, and the people who are treated are living longer than before.
- Gliadel wafer and Gliasite Radiation therapy System (RTS), are treatments for malignant brain tumors.
- Children are treated with special treatments.
- Neuroplastic Surgery, is also a best treatment to reconstruct skull defects.
- Immunotherapy, will help to take care of the patient’s immune system to kill cancer cells.
Care and support, by a nurse, physician assistant or medical affairs coordinator will work together and assist the patient during treatment.
FACT about brain tumor: some brain tumors do not cause headache at all, as the brain is not capable enough to sense pain. Only when the tumor is large and presses on the nerve then a headache is caused.
Four stages of brain cancer
- Stage I –The tissue is benign. The cells look like normal brain cells and grow slowly.
- Stage II—The tissue is malignant. The cells look normal than in stage I .
- Stage III –- The malignant tissue cells look different from normal cells. These abnormal cell grow actively.
- Stage IV—The malignant tissue cells look abnormal and also grow quickly.
Brain Tumor in children
Brain tumors are the leading cause of death in children. Especially children affected with brain tumor suffer from vision problem, even if the tumor is not in the area of the vision. Early detection and better therapies and improved care post treatment has helped the survival rate.
DIET FOR PATIENTS WITH BRAIN TUMOR
Broccoli, has vitamin A, C and E, and it is one of the healthiest vegetables.
dark and leafy greens.
citrus fruits—lemons, limes, oranges, grapes.
garlic, turmeric, ginger and chicken broths.
AWARENESS OF BRAIN TUMOR
The very expression of brain tumor is scary and a person gets the feeling of insecurity and anger. Better understanding of the disease from a doctor always reduces the negativity. The doctor and his specialized team can always support the needs of patients and update them about the new treatments. This helps the patient to have more knowledge and awareness about the symptoms, treatment options and concern of the caretakers. Public awareness of brain cancer and risk factors must improve from school level, adolescents, youngsters and adults must be educated to handle themselves and the family’s knowledge must be enhanced. Campaigns to maintain the impact of the disease also needs to improve among men and women.