World Brain Tumour Day: Know the causes, symptoms and treatment

On World Brain Tumour Day here are some facts one should be aware of.(Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

There is no trustworthy evidence regarding what causes brain tumours, but there are a few risk factors that have been substantiated through research, said Dr Apoorva Kumar, Neurosurgeon who consults on Practo.

He added that children and young people who receive radiation around the head are susceptible to developing tumours in the brain once they grow up. “Also, people with a certain kind of rare genetic condition like neurofibromatosis may develop a brain tumour though such cases are very few in number. Age is also an important factor as people aged over 65 years are diagnosed with brain tumours at quadruple times higher than children and younger people,” Dr Kumar told indianexpress.com

Types of brain tumours

A primary brain tumour originates in the brain, and they may or may not be cancerous. Some tumours can be benign, which do not spread in the surrounding tissues and are not very malicious. However, that does not signify that they will not cause any harm over time. “Sometimes these tumours can be severe and cause a threat to the life of the sufferer. The National Cancer Institute reports that approximately there were 23, 380 fresh cases of brain tumours in 2014,” Dr Kumar shared.

Identifying the symptoms

The symptoms of the brain tumour are dependent on various factors such as the size, type as well as exact location of the tumour. These symptoms are triggered when any tumour is pressed or clashed against a nerve or disturbs a part of the brain. Symptoms are also felt when any tumour particle blocks the fluid flowing around the brain or when there is swelling in the brain owing to the build-up of fluid.

Common symptoms include headaches that get worse in the morning, nausea along with vomiting, an alteration in the speech, hearing and imbalances in walking and movement, mood swings, change in personality and ability to concentrate or remember things and seizures or convulsions.

Treatment

“Surgery is normally the most usual treatment for brain tumours, and the patient is given anaesthesia, and the scalp is shaved before the surgery. Then, craniotomy is performed to open the skull, and the surgeon removes a bone piece out of the skull. Then the tumour is removed as much as possible. The bone is then restored back, and the incision on the scalp is closed. Sometimes surgery is not viable in case the tumour has developed in the brain stem or some other complex parts,” Dr Kumar said.

Neurosurgeons can surgically remove some tumours completely (called resection or complete removal). If the tumour is near sensitive areas of the brain, neurosurgeons will only be able to remove part of it (called partial removal). Even partial removals can relieve symptoms and facilitate or increase the effectiveness of other treatments.

The role of surgery in treating brain tumours

Surgery can provide:
-The complete removal of some brain tumours- A sample to enable doctors to diagnosis the tumour and recommend the most appropriate treatment
– Better quality of life:- Reduced symptoms and improved ability to function (e.g., to think, speak or see better)
– Less pressure within the skull from the tumour
– A longer life

“In case you or any of your near ones is affected with a brain tumour, you should visit the doctor to know the possible treatments other than surgery and other important questions related to brain tumour,” Dr Kumar concluded.

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