A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous, mostly begin in the brain cells or the nerves.
A brain tumor can be a frightening diagnosis. You may feel like your world has been turned upside down, and you don’t know what to do next. But remember, you are not alone. Thousands of people are living with brain tumors every day, and they are finding ways to survive and thrive. In this blog post, we will discuss some of the most important things that you need to know about brain tumors. We will talk about treatment options, side effects, and how to cope with this difficult diagnosis.
What is a brain tumor?
A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous or noncancerous. Cancerous brain tumors are malignant, meaning they can grow and spread to other parts of the brain or body. Noncancerous brain tumors are benign, meaning they are not cancerous and do not spread.
Most brain tumors begin in the cells of the brain or the nerves that connect to the brain. These cells can grow out of control and form a mass.
Types of brain tumor
There are many different types of brain tumors, and they are classified based on the type of cell they originate from. The types are:
- Astrocytoma: This is the most common type of brain tumor. It begins in star-shaped cells called astrocytes.
- Oligodendroglioma: This type of brain tumor begins in cells that make up the fatty covering (myelin) around nerve cells.
- Ependymoma: This type of brain tumor begins in the cells that line the cavities of the brain where cerebrospinal fluid is produced.
- Meningioma: This type of brain tumor begins in the meninges, the layers of tissue that cover the brain and spinal cord.
- Craniopharyngioma: This type of brain tumor begins near the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
- Pineal region tumors: These tumors develop in or near the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland in the brain.
- Glioblastoma: This is the most aggressive and deadliest type of brain tumor. It begins in glial cells, which are supporting cells in the brain.
Stages of brain tumor
Brain tumors are staged based on how big they are and how far they have spread. There are four stages of brain tumors:
- Stage I: The tumor is small and has not spread.
- Stage II: The tumor is larger and may have spread to nearby tissues.
- Stage III: The tumor is larger and has spread to nearby tissues and/or the lymph nodes.
- Stage IV: The tumor is large and has spread to other parts of the brain or body.
What causes brain tumors?
Primary brain tumors originate in the brain or tissues adjacent to it, such as the meninges (brain-covering membranes), cranial nerves, pituitary gland, or pineal gland.
Tumors are formed when cells change their DNA which tells them to grow and divide quickly. Abnormal development occurs as a result of these changes, culminating in the formation of a tumor. This can happen anywhere from any organ or body part but most often occurs within the brain itself.
The cause of most brain tumors is unknown. However, some risk factors may increase your chance of developing a brain tumor. These include:
- Radiation exposure: People who have been treated with radiation therapy for other cancers have an increased risk of developing brain tumors.
- Family history: Having a family member with a brain tumor increases your risk.
- Age: Brain tumors are more common in older adults.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop brain tumors than women.
- Certain genetic conditions: People with certain genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis or tuberous sclerosis, have an increased risk of brain tumors.
What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?
The symptoms of a brain tumor depend on the size and location of the tumor. Symptoms may develop slowly over months or years, or they may come on suddenly.
Common symptoms of a brain tumor include:
- Changes in vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Personality changes
- Memory problems
- Balance and walking problems
These symptoms can be caused by other conditions, so it’s important to see your doctor if you’re experiencing any of them.
How is a brain tumor diagnosed?
A neurological exam analyzes numerous parts of the brain, such as vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and reflexes. If you have difficulty in any one of these areas, it may be an indication that a brain tumor is present.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of a brain tumor, your doctor will likely order a brain scan. This can be done with an MRI or a CT scan.
Once a brain tumor is suspected, a biopsy may be ordered. During a biopsy, a small sample of tissue is taken from the tumor and examined under a microscope. This can help determine if the tumor is cancerous or benign.
How is a brain tumor treated?
The treatment of a brain tumor depends on the type, location, and stage of the tumor. Treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy.
Surgery is the most common treatment for brain tumors. During surgery, the surgeon will attempt to remove the entire tumor. In some cases, this is not possible because the tumor is located in a sensitive area of the brain. In these cases, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams to kill cancer cells. It can be given externally, from a machine outside the body, or internally, through implants placed in the brain.
It is a type of radiation therapy that uses very precise beams of radiation to target the tumor. This allows for higher doses of radiation to be given while sparing the surrounding healthy tissue.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. The drugs can be given intravenously or taken orally. Chemotherapy side effects are determined by the type and amount of medications you take. Nausea, vomiting, and hair loss are all possible chemotherapy side effects.
The type of brain tumor you have can play a role in whether chemotherapy will be recommended to you. This is because tests of your brain tumor cells can determine how effective this treatment may be.
After treatment for a brain tumor, you may need to undergo rehabilitation. This can help you regain strength and function. Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.
The prognosis for brain tumor patients has improved in recent years. However, the survival rate still depends on several factors, such as the type and stage of the tumor. With advances in treatment, more people are surviving brain tumors than ever before.
What is the prognosis for people with brain tumors?
Several factors affect the prognosis for people with brain tumors, such as the type and stage of the tumor. With advances in treatment, many people with brain tumors now live long and productive lives.
In general, the outlook is better for people with benign (noncancerous) brain tumors than for those with malignant (cancerous) brain tumors. However, even people with benign brain tumors may experience serious symptoms and require treatment.
The prognosis for people with brain tumors also depends on the location of the tumor. Tumors that are located in areas of the brain that are difficult to reach with surgery tend to have a poorer prognosis.
Age, overall health, and response to treatment are also important factors in the prognosis for people with brain tumors.
What are the survival rates for brain tumor patients?
The survival rate for people with malignant brain tumors is about 14 percent. The survival rate for people with benign brain tumors is about 98 percent.
The overall five-year survival rate for people with brain tumors is about 33 percent. However, these are only general estimates, and the survival rate for each individual depends on many factors, such as the type and stage of the tumor.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, it’s important to seek out the best possible treatment. There are many options available, and with advances in medicine, more people than ever before are surviving brain tumors.
There is no known way to prevent brain tumors. However, you can reduce your risk by avoiding exposure to certain environmental toxins, such as lead and PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls are highly carcinogenic chemical compounds formerly used in industrial and consumer products). You should also avoid exposure to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays.
If you have a family history of brain tumors, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting screened for the disease. Early detection is key in improving the prognosis for people with brain tumors.