Brain Tumour - Risk factors, Diagnosis and Treatment
It gets very disturbing, when we or someone we love, is being told about having a brain tumour. We start to ask why me? And what in the first place caused this disease? What is the reason behind forming a tumour inside the brain?! No one knows the exact cause of brain tumours. Different tumours have different propensities for different age. Some tumours are common in childhood, some in middle age and old age.
Tumours are classically low and high grade. Some of the low grade tumours have the capacity to transform into high-grade, and high-grade tumours are mostly cancerous in nature.
Symptoms of brain tumours have a very wide spectrum of combinations, like- headaches, numbness or tingling in the arms or legs, seizures, nausea and vomiting, memory issues, mood changes, personality changes, balance, and walking problems, changes in speech, vision, or hearing.
Brain tumours are diagnosed by the results of medical history, physical examinations, and radiological confirmation.
Treatment of brain tumour depends on the type, location, and size of the tumour, as well as the age and health of the patients.
Risk factors for Brain Tumours :
Studies have found that ionizing radiation from high-dose radiation therapy from a large machine aimed at the head and other sources can lead to a tumour. Family history can be another risk factor.
Researchers are studying whether using cell phones, head injury in the past could be the important risk factors, but additional research is needed on the same yet.
If you have symptoms, suggestive of a brain tumour, your doctor will physically examine and ask about your health history (personal and family). You may need to go for some tests and procedures as per the requirement, like-Neurological examination, MRI, CT scan, Angiogram, Spinal tap, Biopsy, etc.
Treatment for a Brain Tumour:
Brain tumours have several treatment options. The options are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people get a combination of treatments.
The choice of treatment depends mainly on the following:
• The type and grade of brain tumour
• Its location in the brain
• Size of the tumour
• Your age and general health
Your doctor will describe your treatment choice, the expected results, and the possible side effects. Before treatment starts, ask your doctor about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities. You and your doctor can work together to develop a treatment plan that meets your medical and personal needs.
Your doctor may also include an oncology nurse, a registered dietician, a counselor, a physiotherapist, a speech therapist, and a physical medicine specialist.
Surgery for Brain Tumours:
Surgery is the usual first treatment for most brain tumours. Before surgery, you should discuss the plan for type and site of surgery and respective complication and side effect of surgery. In most cases. now neurosurgeons use neuronavigation for planning and precision and of surgery and also perform very small incision and craniotomy instead of opening the large skull. They can be as small as 2 rupees coin size.
Sometimes if patients have surface tumours in the speech or motor areas then surgery can be performed in the awake stage. The surgeon removes as much tumour as possible. You may be asked to move a leg, count, say the alphabet, or tell a story. Your ability to follow these commands helps the surgeon protect important parts of the brain.
Radiation therapy for brain tumours:
Radiation therapy kills brain tumour cells with high-energy x-rays, gamma rays, or protons.
Radiation therapy usually follows surgery or biopsy. The radiation kills tumour cells that may remain in the area. Sometimes, people who can't have surgery have radiation therapy instead. Doctors use external and internal types of radiation therapy to treat brain tumours.
• External radiation therapy- A large machine is aimed to direct beams of radiation at either the whole brain or at specific portions of the brain. Some people need radiation aimed at the spinal cord. The treatment schedule depends on your age, and the type and size of the tumour. Fractionated external beam therapy is the most common method of radiation therapy used for people with brain tumours.
• Internal radiation therapy- Internal radiation isn't commonly used for treating brain tumours, but is under study.
Some people have no or few side effects after treatment. Rarely, people may have nausea for several hours after external radiation therapy.
Also, external radiation therapy commonly causes hair loss from the part of the head that was treated. Hair usually grows back within a few months.
Chemotherapy for brain Tumours:
Chemotherapy, the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, is sometimes used to treat brain tumours. Drugs may be given by mouth or intravenous or through wafers that are put into the brain. Chemotherapy may be given during and after radiation therapy. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. They may be given in an outpatient part of the hospital. Rarely, you may need to stay in the hospital.
Follow-up care after brain Tumour treatment:
You'll need regular checkups after treatment for a brain Tumour. Checkups help ensure that any changes in your health are noted and treated if needed. If you have any health problems between checkups, you should contact your doctor.
Your doctor will check for the return of the Tumour. Also, checkups help detect health problems that can result from cancer treatment. These include careful physical and neurologic exams, as well as MRI or CT scans.
The Department of Neuro Sciences at Aakash Healthcare Super Speciality Hospital is a combination of path-breaking technology, state-of-the-art infrastructure and highly experienced neurosurgeons, and the best neurology doctor. Our experts provide consultation for the simplest neurological problems to the most complex neurological disorders and diseases. The department of Neurosurgery has a dedicated state-of-the-art operating room with endoscopes and microscopes that augment surgical precision to perform complex neuro and spine surgeries, namely Brain Tumors Surgery, Skull Base Surgery, Endoscopy Brain Surgery, Spinal Surgery with Implants, and Microscopic Lumbar Discectomy.
Dr. Amit Srivastava
Senior Consultant & Director