A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells that have multiplied in an uncontrolled way in the brain. It can be benign (non-cancerous), which means they only grow slowly and are less likely to return if they can be completely removed. They can cause problems by pressing on certain areas of the brain. On the other hand, malignant (cancerous) brain tumours are more serious and often grow quickly. They can spread to other parts of the brain or spine or in rare cases to other parts of the body.

Brain tumours can be primary, which means they have started in the brain, or they can be secondary, meaning they have spread to the brain from another part of the body.

Brain tumors

Symptoms may include persistent headaches, seizures, constant nausea or vomiting, confusion or disorientation, difficulty in coordination and balance, memory problems, changes in personality or behavior, and more. The type and severity of symptoms often depend on their size and location in the brain.

Treatment options for brain tumours include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, or a combination of these depending on the type, size, and location of the brain tumour. Each treatment has its own potential side effects and benefits and is determined by a team of medical professionals based on an individual’s specific condition. Early detection and treatment are crucial for a better prognosis.

Causes of Brain tumours

Brain tumours occur when there’s a fault in the normal cell cycle, causing cells to grow in an uncontrolled way. This leads to a mass of cells, or tumour. The exact cause of brain tumours is not clearly understood, but several factors are believed to play a role in the development of these tumours:

1. Genetic Factors: Certain inherited conditions and syndromes can increase the risk of developing brain tumours. These include neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2, Tuberous sclerosis, etc.

2. Age: Risk increases with age, although brain tumours can occur at any age. Certain types of brain tumours, such as gliomas and meningiomas, are more common in adults.

3. Exposure to Radiation: People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation, such as that used in the treatment of other types of cancer, have an increased risk of developing brain tumours.

4. Prior History of Cancer: Individuals who have had cancer in other parts of their body have a higher risk of developing brain tumours.

5. Immune System Disorders: Conditions that disrupt the function of the immune system may increase the risk.

6. Certain Occupational Exposures: Prolonged exposure to chemicals used in certain industries like petroleum, rubber manufacturing and nuclear power plants may be associated with a higher risk of brain tumours.

7. Unhealthy Lifestyle: Though not directly linked, unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking may also contribute to brain tumours.

However, many people with no risk factors develop brain tumours, and many people with risk factors never do. It’s important to know that having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that you will get the disease. Most brain tumours are not linked to any known risk factors and occur sporadically or randomly.

Risk Factors of Brain tumours

Brain tumours arise when abnormal cells within the brain multiply in an uncontrollable way. A number of risk factors have been known to increase the chances of developing a brain tumour:

1. Age: Risk increases with age, with adults more likely to develop brain tumours. However, certain types of brain tumours are more common in children.

2. Family History and Genetics: Some inherited conditions, like neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2, tuberous sclerosis, and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, can increase the risk of developing a brain tumour.

3. Previous Cancer Treatment: People who have previously received radiotherapy treatment to the head for other cancers (such as leukemia) are at a slightly increased risk.

4. Radiation Exposure: Exposure to radiation, especially ionizing radiation, increases the risk.

5. Certain Occupations: Occupations where workers are exposed to certain chemicals or substances can potentially increase risk, though studies have not conclusively shown this link.

6. Immune System Disorders: Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, can increase risk.

7. Medical Conditions: Some studies suggest association between brain tumour development and certain medical conditions or illnesses, such as allergies, high blood pressure or seizures.

8. Lifestyle Factors: Smoking and high consumption of alcoholic beverages have been linked to certain types of brain tumours.

Keep in mind that having these risk factors does not mean an individual will definitely develop a brain tumour. Many people with these risks will never develop a brain tumour and those who do may have none or just a few of these risk factors.

Signs and Symptoms of Brain tumours

Brain tumours can cause a wide range of symptoms. These may vary based on the type of brain tumour, its size, exact location, and rate of growth. Some common signs and symptoms include:

1. New or changing headache: While most headaches aren’t due to brain tumours, persistent or worsening headaches, especially if they’re different from previous headaches in intensity or nature, can be a potential sign.

2. Seizures: Brain tumours can disrupt the electrical activity in the brain and cause seizures. This can result in symptoms like temporary confusion, twitching or jerking of limbs, and loss of consciousness.

3. Changes in speech or hearing: Some people may experience difficulties speaking or understanding speech, or they may encounter problems with hearing.

4. Vision problems: Blurry vision, double vision, or loss of peripheral vision can sometimes be symptoms of a brain tumour.

5. Difficulty balancing or walking: A brain tumour can cause abnormalities in balancing or coordination, resulting in an unsteady walk.

6. Personality or behavior changes: Some people with brain tumours may experience mood swings, changes in personality, or problems with concentration or memory.

7. Nausea or vomiting: This can occur typically in the morning or may happen without any relation to meals.

8. Numbness or tingling in the limbs: This can indicate a brain tumour that is affecting the part of the brain which controls body movements.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean that an individual has a brain tumour, as they can also be caused by other conditions. However, if a person is experiencing any of these symptoms, particularly if they are persistent or worsening, it’s vital to consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Diagnosis Brain tumours

A brain tumour is a growth of cells in the brain that multiplies in an abnormal, uncontrollable way. It can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

Cancerous brain tumours are more serious and often aggressive, growing and spreading rapidly. They can harm normal brain tissue and cause damage as they grow by causing pressure inside the skull and restricting blood and oxygen supply to the brain.

Noncancerous brain tumours tend to stay in one place and do not spread. They are less likely to return after being removed, unlike malignant brain tumours. However, they can cause serious health problems by pressing on certain parts of the brain, leading to complications like vision loss or motor function disruption.

The diagnosis of brain tumours involves various procedures. Initially, it may involve a physical examination, including a neurologic exam to check vision, hearing, balance, coordination, reflexes and other parameters. If a tumour is suspected, imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computerised tomography (CT) scan might be done.

In some cases, a biopsy might be conducted to determine whether the tumour is cancerous. The sample collected can also identify the type of cells involved, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and whether the cancer cells are likely to respond to certain treatments.

The combination of these results helps physicians to classify the tumour and decide on the best treatment method. The type, size, and location of the tumour, as well as the patient’s overall health, are all factors that will influence the treatment plan. Treatment options typically include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these.

Treatment of Brain tumours

Treatment of brain tumours depends on several factors such as the type, size, and location of the tumour, as well as the patient’s overall health. Here are a few common methods of treatment:

1. Surgery: This is usually the first step in the treatment of brain tumours. The goal is to remove as much of the tumour as possible while minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue. In some cases, the tumour may be located in a place that makes it accessible for an operation.

2. Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams, such as X-rays or protons, to kill tumour cells. It can be used after surgery to kill any remaining cells or as the primary treatment if surgery isn’t an option.

3. Chemotherapy: This is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells, including tumour cells. It can be given orally or intravenously and is often used in combination with other treatments.

4. Immunotherapy: This is a type of treatment that boosts the body’s natural defenses to fight the cancer. It uses substances made by the body or in a lab to improve or restore immune system function.

5. Targeted Therapy: This treatment targets the specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to cancer growth and survival.

6. Tumor Treating Fields: This is a treatment that involves the use of an electric field to disrupt the division of cancer cells, thus slowing tumour growth.

7. Rehabilitation: After treatment, rehabilitation might be necessary to regain lost motor skills or speech. This may involve working with various therapists, such as physical therapist, occupational therapists, or speech therapists.

Remember, each patient’s treatment plan is unique and tailored to their specific needs. Regular check-ups and discussions with healthcare providers are essential to determine the best course of action. Always consult with healthcare professionals for advice about treatment options.

Medications commonly used for Brain tumours

Treatment for brain tumors often involves a multiple therapeutic approach that can include surgery, radiation therapy, and medications. Medications used can vary depending on the type, location, and stage of the brain tumor, as well as the patient’s overall health.

Here are some medications commonly used in the treatment of brain tumors:

1. Steroids: Dexamethasone is commonly used to decrease swelling inside the brain before or after surgery.

2. Anti-Seizure Medications: Brain tumors can often cause seizures. Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) like levetiracetam (Keppra) or phenytoin (Dilantin) are used to control seizures.

3. Chemotherapy Drugs: Temozolomide (Temodar) is the most commonly used chemotherapy drug for treating brain tumors. Other drugs include lomustine, carmustine, and PCV (procarbazine, lomustine, and vincristine) are also used.

4. Targeted Therapy Drugs: These drugs specifically target the abnormalities present in cancer cells that allow them to grow and survive. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is a targeted therapy that stops the formation of new blood vessels in tumors, cutting off their supply of nutrients.

5. Immunotherapy Drugs: These drugs trigger the body’s immune system to fight cancer. Nivolumab (Opdivo) and Atezolizumab (Tecentriq) are two examples.

6. Other Drugs: Depending on the patient’s symptoms, doctors may also prescribe pain medications, anticoagulants to prevent blood clots, H2 blockers or proton pump inhibitors to prevent stomach ulcers (common with steroid use), or antidepressants.

Remember, every patient’s case is different and treatment will be individualized based on their unique needs. Always consult with a healthcare provider for specific medical advice.

Prevention of Brain tumours

Preventing brain tumours largely depends on eliminating or reducing known risk factors. Here are some general preventive measures although it should be noted that most brain tumours occur without a clear cause and are not currently preventable:

1. Avoid Radiation: Exposure to high doses of radiation without proper protection increases the likelihood of brain tumours. Therefore, environments with potential radiation exposure, such as specific industries, radiology labs, or certain medical treatments, should always be approached with protective measures.

2. Healthy Diet: Although no certain foods have been directly linked to the prevention of brain tumours, a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can contribute to overall good health and boost the immune system.

3. Regular Exercise: Physical activity reduces the risk of various health conditions, including some forms of cancer. Although the direct link between exercise and brain tumour prevention is not definitively established, it contributes to maintaining a healthy immune system and overall wellbeing.

4. No Smoking: Some studies suggest a tentative link between brain tumours and smoking. Thus, quitting smoking might decrease the risk.

5. Limit alcohol: Excessive alcohol use can lead to a variety of health problems. Limiting alcohol consumption may decrease risk.

6. Regular Check-ups: Regular medical check-ups are significant in early detection of many health issues, including brain tumours.

Brain tumors

7. Avoid unnecessary medical radiation: For those who have frequent medical tests or treatments involving radiation, discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.

Remember that these are measures to improve overall health and decrease cancer risk, but there is no sure way to prevent brain tumours. The best approach is leading a healthy lifestyle, regular check-ups, and consult your doctor if you experience any unusual symptoms.

FAQ’s about Brain tumours

1. What is a brain tumour?
A brain tumour is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain. They can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

2. What are the types of brain tumours?
Brain tumours have many types, including gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, primary CNS lymphomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNETs).

3. What are the symptoms of a brain tumour?
Symptoms can vary, based on the tumor’s size and location. Common symptoms include new or changing headaches, blurred vision, loss of balance, confusion, and seizures. However, many people with brain tumours experience no symptoms.

4. Who is at risk for brain tumours?
Brain tumours can affect people of any age, but risk increases with age, exposure to radiation, a family history of brain tumours, and certain genetic syndromes.

5. How are brain tumours diagnosed?
They are typically diagnosed through neurological exams, scans like MRI or CT, and/or biopsy.

6. What treatments are available for brain tumours?
Treatment options depend on the type, size, and location of the tumour. They can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted drug therapy, or a combination of these.

7. Can brain tumours be prevented?
Because the cause of most brain tumours is unknown, at this time there’s no sure way to prevent them. However, reducing exposure to radiation and maintaining a healthy lifestyle may help lower risk.

8. What is the survival rate for brain tumours?
The survival rate depends on many factors, including type of tumour, its location, whether it can be removed, and the patient’s age and overall health. Survival rates also vary widely by type.

9. How can I cope with a brain tumour diagnosis?
Coping involves learning about the disease, keeping communication lines open with your healthcare team, taking care of your physical health, seeking support from professional counselors or support groups, and maintaining activities and relationships that were important to you before your diagnosis.

10. Can a benign brain tumor turn into a malignant one?
Although it is rare, benign brain tumors can turn into malignant tumors over time. However, most benign tumors don’t turn malign and can often be successfully managed or removed.

Remember, it is important to consult with healthcare professionals for accurate information and treatment.

Useful links

Understanding and researching brain tumours can be challenging, given its complexity and the range of types that exist. Here are some journal articles that may provide useful insights and information:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27720005/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31067074/

Remember that content in scientific journals can be dense and complex. Consulting with a healthcare professional could be beneficial for interpreting the information.

Complications of Brain tumours

Brain tumours, either malignant or benign, can cause many complications because they directly affect the brain, which controls all body functions.

Here are some potential complications:

1. Cognitive Changes: Brain tumours may interfere with normal brain function and can lead to problems with memory, concentration, attention, and speech troubles.

2. Physical Changes: Depending on the location and size of the tumour, it can affect motor function, causing weakness or paralysis. It can also lead to seizures, changes in sensation (numbness, tingerness), difficulty swallowing, vision or hearing loss, and balance and coordination problems.

3. Emotional Changes: There can be personality changes, mood swings, depression, anxiety, or even psychosis.

4. Hormonal Disorder: Tumours in the pituitary gland or those that impact the pituitary gland can affect the balance of hormones in your body. This can lead to endocrine disorders such as Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, and hyperthyroidism.

5. Hydrocephalus: This is an accumulation of fluid in the brain. Increased pressure can result in persistent headaches, double vision, vomiting, and mental changes.

6. Life-threatening situations: Malignant brain tumours can grow aggressively and have the potential to be life-threatening by invading and causing damage to normal brain tissue. They may also metastasize to other parts of the brain and spinal cord.

The symptoms and complications of brain tumours can be managed to some extent with appropriate treatment which could include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or other medications to control symptoms.

It is vital to remember that every patient’s condition is unique, and people may experience different complications depending on the type, size, and location of the tumour. Thus, personal medical advice from healthcare professionals is of utmost importance in dealing with brain tumours.

Home remedies of Brain tumours

Brain tumors are serious medical conditions that necessitate formal medical advice from healthcare professionals and usually require sophisticated treatments like surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy.

As for supportive care and improving the quality of life during the treatment, certain home remedies may be beneficial. However, none of these are proven cures for brain tumors:

1. Healthy diet: Foods that boost brain health include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

2. Hydration: Drinking plenty of water and staying well-hydrated supports overall health.

3. Exercise: Regular light physical activity, as suggested by your doctor, can help maintain a patient’s strength and improve mood and fatigue levels.

4. Adequate rest: Good sleep is critical to allow the body to recuperate and manage stress better.

5. Positive attitude and stress reduction: Practices like meditation, yoga and hobbies can reduce stress, help to maintain a positive attitude, and improve quality of life.

6. Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers: Regular monitoring and reporting of any new or worsening symptoms can help in timely interventions and adjustments in the treatment.

7. Complementary therapies: Under supervision and consent of the treating specialist, therapies like acupuncture, massages, etc., might help manage treatment side-effects.

Again, it’s crucial to remember these are supportive measures. Brain tumors typically require advanced medical treatments, and you should always consult with and follow the advice of healthcare providers.

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Last Update: January 11, 2024