Mind Matters

Brain tumors – Know the facts about brain tumours

Brain and spinal cord tumours are found inside the skull tissues or of spinal column. A tumour is a mass of cells that is either congenital (present from birth) or may be a later growth.he tumours may be genetic and may occur at any region.

Damages due to the Brain Tumours

Brain tumours may cause the following damages:

  • Blocking the blood flow
  • Pressing the healthy tissue
  • Suppressing the nourishment to the healthy tissue
  • Disrupting of the messages that go to and from the brain

Some tumours may however be non-lethal.

There are roughly around 120 known brain tumors till date.They are named based either on the type cells (glioma) or location (meningioma- occurring in membranes lining the brain and spinal chord)

Causes of Brain Tumours

The research is not yet conclusive. Possible causes under investigation include the following:

  • Viruses
  • Defective genes
  • Exposure to certain chemicals and other hazardous materials
  • Immune system disorders
  • Genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis
  • Exposure to radiation

Brain and spinal chord tumours are not contagious and radio waves form the mobile phones do not increase the chances of getting brain tumour.

Risk groups of Brain Tumours

The following are few facts regarding the risk groups:

  • Males are more prone
  • Middle aged to older people are more prone
  • Children are more prone
  • Runs in some families

Primary tumours (brain itself is the place of origin) are more common in children.

Statistics of Brain Tumours

The following are the NIH statistics of brain tumours:

More than 359,000 persons in the United States are estimated are diagnosed to have primary central nervous system tumours (CNS) tumours.
More than 195,000 people are diagnosed with a brain tumour each year.
Nearly 3,200 central nervous system tumours are diagnosed each year in children under age 20.

Grading of Brain Tumours

Depending on the severity the CNS (Central Nervous System) tumours are graded into the following 4 categories:

  • Grade I tumours
  • Grade II tumours
  • Grade III tumours
  • Grade IV tumours

Most common symptoms of tumours

Most common symptoms of brain tumours include the following:

  • Headaches accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Problems with balance or coordination loss of muscle control
  • Hydrocephalus, and changes in personality or behaviour

The most prominent sign of brain tumour among infants is the enlarging head or bulging crown.

Diagnosis of Brain Tumours

A wide range of diagnostic tools, right from routine laboratory tests to advanced imaging tests, including the angiography to measure the blood flow are employed. Electroencephalogram (EEG) and magentoencephalography (MEG) are also employed.

Treatment of Brain Tumours

Initial treatment for a CNS tumours may involve a variety of drugs, including the following:

  • Anticonvulsants to treat seizures
  • Pain medications
  • Steroids or other anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and improve blood flow antidepressants to treat anxiety or ease depression
  • Drugs to fight nausea

Additional treatment for the Malignant Brain Tumours

Additional treatment for the malignant brain tumours include the following:

  • Neurosurgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Some patients may receive a combination of treatments.

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