May 2, 2016
Brain cancers are one of the most dangerous and fatal forms of cancers known today. These form a mass (tumor) of abnormal tissue cells in the brain that can affect various important functions of the brain and result in a large number of complications.
There are various types of brain cancers. Some of these tumors are benign (non-cancerous) while some of the brain tumors can be malignant (cancerous) in nature. Primary brain tumors are those tumors that initiate in the brain while secondary (metastatic) brain tumors are cancerous cells from other part of the body that have spread to affect the cells of the brain tissue.
The rate of growth of a brain tumor varies greatly. The rate of growth and the location of the tumor on the brain actually determine the way it will affect the nervous (brain) system. The type of brain cancer treatment depends on the type of brain tumor
as well as its size and location around the brain.
There are several variable signs and symptoms that are seen in case of a brain cancer. The exact set of symptoms for the different types of brain cancer depends on the tumor’s size, rate of growth as well as the locations. The common signs of brain cancer includes change in pattern or a new onset of headaches, or headaches that become increasingly severe and more frequent, unexplained vomiting or nauseous sensation, blurred vision, loss of peripheral vision, double vision, steady loss of sensation or movement in the arm or leg, balancing problems, speech difficulties, confusion in everyday life, behavioral and personality changes, new seizures as well as cardiac (heart) problems.
The cause of brain cancer varies depending on the type of brain cancer as well as several other factors. The primary brain cancer is known to develop in the brain initially as a result of mutation in the DNA of the normal tissue cells. This mutation results in uncontrolled growth of the affected cells which eventually form a tumor (mass). These brain cancers are less common as compared to secondary (metastasized) brain cancers where the cancer spreads from another part of the body and affects the cells in or near the brain. The various primary brain cancers are classified according to the type of cells that are mutated, such as gliomas, meningiomas, acoustic neuromas, pituitary adenomas, medulloblastomas, primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET), germ cell tumors, Craniopharyngiomas, etc.
Although it is difficult to determine the exact cause for the brain cancer, there are certain risk factors that account for the risk of brain tumor, such as advancing age, radiation exposure as well as hereditary factors. In case a brain tumor is suspected the doctors use various diagnostic tests such as a neurological examination, imaging tests (such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan, etc) as well as biopsy which collects a sample of the tumor for detailed pathological analysis in the laboratory for determining the presence as well as the size, location and type of brain tumor.
There are several methods of treatment for brain cancer and the exact type of treatment method depends on the type, location and size of the tumor as well as the patient’s overall health status and preference. Surgical treatment is usually advised when the brain tumor is in an easily-accessible part of the brain and is used to remove as much of the tumor as possible suing surgical methods. Radiation therapy is another form of brain cancer treatment which involves using high-energy beams of radiation (x-ray particles, protons, etc) to target the tumor in the brain from outside and kill the cancerous cells. Stereotactic radiosurgery is actually a non-surgical treatment method that uses multiple beams of radiation to target the tumor precisely and to avoid damage to the surrounding healthy tissues and nerves in the brain. Chemotherapy is another form of brain cancer treatment method, which involves using medical drugs to kill the cancerous cells. These drugs may be administered using intravenous (IV) or oral methods.
Rehabilitation after brain cancer surgery is another important part of the complete brain cancer treatment. This aims to recover any of the lost skills or functions that might have been lost (forgotten) due to the brain tumor affecting a part of the brain responsible for carrying out that particular function. Rehabilitative programs may include physical therapy to help regain lost motor skills and muscle strength, occupational therapy can help return to normal everyday activities, speech therapy can resolve difficulty in speech after a brain cancer surgical operation.
Although most form of brain cancers are treatable there is still a high number of people becoming affected by it who are not treated on time and fall victim to the various complications arising out of it or even death. It is imperative to consult an experienced physician or an oncologist (cancer specialist) in case any of the signs and symptoms of brain cancer are noticed. Prompt and efficient treatment can set the difference between a good quality of life after treatment or fatal complications if ignored.
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