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Key Information About Brain Tumor

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Brain tumor is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in the brain. The worldwide incidence rate of primary malignant brain and other CNS tumors is 3.4 per 100,000.

This tumor can originate in brain and the surrounding tissues including meninges, cranial nerves, pituitary gland or pineal gland.

Brain Tumor Regions

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Causes

No one knows what causes brain tumors; there are only a few known risk factors that have been established by research.

Stress induces signals that cause cells to develop into tumors. This disease is more common in people who have had radiotherapy, CT scans or x-rays to the head.

Individuals with risk factors, such as having a job in an oil refinery, handlers of jet fuel or chemicals like benzene, chemists, embalmers, or rubber-industry workers, show higher rates of brain tumor than the general population.

In adults, metastasis from a tumor in the other parts of the body, or secondary tumor is quite common, whereas children most often develop primary brain tumors originating in the brain itself.

World Brain Tumor Day is observed on the June 8 every year with the objective of spreading awareness and educating people about the same.

Symptoms

Seizure, loss of control of body functions, changes in ability to perform daily activities, sleep problems, memory changes, sore muscles, headache, fatigue, multiple muscle twitches, loss of consciousness, confusion, difficulty swallowing, numbness, personality changes, nausea, aggressiveness, vomiting, drowsiness, memory problems, loss of balance, changes in judgment and partial or complete loss of vision are some known symptoms of brain tumor.

Headache due to this tumor sticks around — and it will feel different. It is "usually a new headache that you have never had before," said Robert Martuza, MD, at Massachusetts General Hospital. "It’s more of a dull ache."

"Most brain tumors are very soft, very mushy, they're not very well defined, they're infiltrative and it's difficult to get completely around them," said Dr Jonathan Rasouli, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City.

I lost almost all of my motor movement on my left side. [I lost] coordination in my legs, and my left arm. It was pretty difficult to say the least. I couldn’t walk. My vision was hugely compromised.

— John Orsino Jr., brain tumor patient.

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Diagnosis

Sequencing the genome of cancer tumours is often used to help identify the type of cancer a person has and the best treatment for it.

CT Scan of a Brain Tumor

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Treatment

Treatment depends on various factors like the size of the tumour, the grade of the tumour, location, extent and the type.

Options include surgical removal of part or all of the whole tumor, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and symptomatic therapy.

"Instead of research focused only on whether or not someone lives, we are now looking at the quality of survival. What's happened now is the push for precision medicine that will provide individualised treatment to optimise outcomes," said Tricia King, senior author of a study on brain tumor that was published in the 'Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society'.

Metformin, a medicine commonly used to treat diabetes, holds promise against a rare type of childhood brain tumor in laboratory studies, as per an international team of researchers led by the University of Michigan Health Rogel Cancer Center report in Science Translational Medicine.

Brain tumors are treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation though the survival span of the patients is not more than 14 months.

— Wing Commander (retired) V G Vasishta, Chairman, SBF Healthcare & Research Center.

CT Scanner

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

Prevention

Avoiding or reducing contact with radiation (especially to the head) and avoiding toxic chemicals associated with the oil and rubber industry, embalming chemicals, and other environmental toxins may help prevent brain tumor.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Incidence rate of primary malignant brain and other CNS tumors is _____ per 100,000.
    • 1.4
    • 2.4
    • 3.4
    • 4.4
  2. Brain tumor can originate in ________
    • meninges
    • cranial nerves
    • pineal gland
    • all the above
  3. Stress induces signals that cause cells to develop into tumors.
    • True
    • False
  4. When is World Brain Tumor Day observed?
    • June 7
    • June 8
    • June 9
    • June 10
  5. Most brain tumors are soft.
    • True
    • False

Answer Key

  1. 3.4
  2. all the above
  3. True
  4. June 8
  5. True

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

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