What is a Brain Tumor ?
Brain tumors develop when there is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. This rare condition can be seen in both adults and children. Brain tumors can be categorized into cancerous (malignant) and non-cancerous (benign). Cancerous (malignant) tumors are more aggressive and serious than non-cancerous (benign) tumor. There are approximately 140 types of brain tumors that can develop in the brain. Metastatic or primary are the two types of brain tumors. Primary tumors develop in the brain and does not spread outside the brain. Unlike primary tumors, metastatic tumors develop in other body part and spreads to the brain through lymphatic or blood tissue. Kidney cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and breast cancer can spread to the brain.
What Causes Brain Tumors ?
There is no as such proven cause of brain tumors. However, some of the causes include –
- A family history of genetic disorders such as tuberous sclerosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, neurofibromatosis and Hippel-Lindau disease.
- People who have a compromised immune system
- Exposure to radiation
Symptoms of Brain Tumors
Headaches are considered as the most common symptoms of a brain tumor. Further symptoms are –
- Problems with memory
- Weakness in one part of the body
- Problems while walking
- Changes in hearing and speech
- Tingling or numbness in the arms or legs
- Personality changes
- Balance problems
- Unable to concentrate
- Changes in vision
Types of Brain Tumors
A brain tumor can result in a number of neurological problems. There are many types of brain tumors. Some common tumors are –
- Central nervous system (CNS) lymphoma
- Acoustic neuroma
- Optic nerve glioma
- Pituitary neuroectodermal
- Brain stem glioma
- Pineal tumors
- Primitive neuroectodermal
- Mixed glioma
Brain Tumor Surgery
Brain tumors can only be removed by the means of surgery. Surgery is the only treatment for non-cancerous (benign) tumors. Whereas cancerous (malignant) tumors require treatment along with the surgery that include chemotherapy or radiation therapy. There are different goals of any treatment for brain tumors –
- A longer life
- Provide access for delivering intra-surgical treatments such as laser surgery or hypertherapy
- Remove all or as much of the tumor is possible
- Provide access for implantation of internal radiation or chemotherapy
- Improves overall quality of life by reducing symptoms and also be relieving intracranial pressure caused by the cancer
Treatment for Brain Tumor
The diagnosis of a brain tumor is done by using MRIs or CT scans. There are some treatment options available for treating brain tumors. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery are the surgical options for removing brain tumors. The treatment depends upon certain factors –
- Location of brain tumor
- General health and age of a patient
- Size of brain tumor
- Grade and type of brain tumor
Proton therapy can be considered as one of the best treatment options for brain tumors. Proton therapy minimizes side effects as compared to traditional radiation therapy and also long term complications can be avoided. Proton therapy uses higher doses of radiation for targeting brain cancer. This also causes less damage to the surrounding tissues. The success rate of this therapy is also very high.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
GBM is considered as the most serious and common type of malignant brain tumors, which is also a part of the glamorous tumor. Glioblastoma multiforme majorly develops in the cerebral hemispheres but it can also spread to the spinal cord, brainstem and brain. Its common characteristics include –
- GBM is less common in children
- GBM can be composed of certain different types of cell
- GBM causes are unknown
- GBM is commonly seen in older individuals and is more common in men than in women
- GBM can evolve from a lower grade Oligodendroglioma or astrocytoma
- GBM can also develop directly
Surgery is the only treatment for GBM. The surgery can be combined with radiation therapy or can be followed by radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is used after the completion of the surgery in order to destroy leftover tumor cells and also prevents their reappearance.
Astrocytoma Brain Tumor
Astrocytoma is also a type of brain tumor that begins from the astrocytes (star-shaped cell) which forms a supportive brain tissue. Ependymal and oligodendrocytes cells are the other type of supportive brain cells. Together they are termed as glial cells and forms glial tissue. This tumor is subdivided into four categories such as grade I astrocytoma, grade II astrocytoma, grade III astrocytoma and grade IV astrocytome. One of the usual symptoms of this tumor is the growing pressure within the skull. Major symptoms are mental status changes, headache and vomiting. Other symptoms are obtuseness, drowsiness, personality changes, lethargy and disordered conduct. Gliomas are treated by using radiation therapy.
Inoperable Brain Tumor
When any surgical treatment cannot safely remove the tumor due to its complicated location is termed as an inoperable brain tumor. Some treatments are available for removing such tumors. These tumors are inoperable due to their complicated location. These tumors may develop slowly and their growth can be controlled with the help of radiation therapy and medications.
Benefits of Brain Tumor Surgery
The potential benefits after a brain tumor surgery depends upon the individual situation. The goal of a brain tumor surgery is to cure several types of brain tumor at once. A brain tumor treatment can improve symptoms and also provides for an improved quality of life.
Recovery After Brain Tumor Surgery
A patient is recommended for speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. The aim of these therapies is to speed up the recovery period so that the patient may get on with his routine life as soon as possible.
Success and Survival Rate for Brain Tumors
Multiple factors such as size, location and type of tumor determines the survival rate for a brain tumor. The survival rate is determined in terms of percentage of people who survive for 5 years after being diagnosed of having a brain tumor. The survival rate is around 16% of those people who are in between the age of 45-64, 65% in the case of children and 55% in those who are in between the age of 15-45.
Cost of Brain Tumor Surgery
India is known worldwide for its advanced medical facilities and promising technology for brain tumor surgery. Some of the best hospitals for brain tumor can be found in India. Also the cost of brain tumor surgery in India is substantially lower than other developed countries of the world.