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Brain tumour

Brain tumour
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By Faozat Aragbaye

A brain tumour is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumours can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

TYPES

Brain tumour can be categorized as primary or secondary.

Primary brain tumours- Primary brain tumours originate in the brain. They can develop from:

brain cells membranes that surround the brain (meninges) nerve cells glands.

Primary brain tumours can be benign or cancerous. In adults, the most common types of brain tumours are gliomas and meningiomas.

Other primary brain tumours include; pituitary tumours, which are usually benign pineal gland tumour, which can be benign or malignant ependymomas, which are usually benign craniopharyngiomas, which occur in children and are benign.

Primary central nervous system(CNS) lymphomas, which are malignant primary germ cell tumours of the brain, which can be benign or malignant meningiomas, which originates in the meninges schwannomas, which originates in that produce the cover of the nerves(myelin sheath) called Schwann cells.

 Secondary brain tumours- Secondary brain tumours make up the majority of brain cancers. They start in one part of the body and spread, or metastasize to the brain. The following tumours can metastasize to the brain;

lung cancer

breast cancer

kidney cancer

skin cancer

 Secondary brain tumours are always malignant. Benign tumours don’t spread from one part of the body to another.

RISK FACTORS

Risk factors for brain tumours include;

Family history

Age

Race

Chemical exposure

Exposure to radiation

 SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

The symptoms of brain tumour depend on tumour size, type, and location. Symptoms may be caused when a tumour presses on a nerve or harms a part of the brain. Symptoms may also be caused when a tumour blocks the fluid that flows through and around the brain or when the brain swells because of the buildup of fluid.

The common symptoms of brain tumour include;

New onset or change in pattern of headaches.

Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe.

Unexplained nausea and vomiting

Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision.

 Hearing problems.

Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg

Difficulty with balance.

Speech difficulties.

Confusion in everyday matters.

Seizures especially in someone who does not have history of seizures.

Personality or behaviour changes

DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosis of the brain tumour starts with the symptoms, personal and family history. Other investigations include;

Physical  and neurological examination

Imaging studies such as CT(CAT) scan or MRI to see details images of the brain

Angiogram or MRA, which involve the use of dye and X-rays of the blood vessels in the brain, to look for signs of tumour or abnormal blood vessels

Biopsy of the tumour tissue in the brain.

TREATMENT

There are several treatment options for brain tumours. The options are surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Some people are placed on combination therapy.

Treatment options and recommendation depend on several factors;

  • The size, type and grade of the tumour
  • Whether the tumour is putting pressure on vital parts of the brain.
  • If tumour has spread to other parts of the CNS or body.
  • Possible side effects.

The patient’s preferences and overall health.

PREVENTION

In general, there is no known way to prevent brain cancers. However, early diagnosis and treatment of tumours that tend to metastasize to brain may reduce the risk of metastatic brain tumours.

Avoiding or reducing contact with radiation( especially to the head) and avoiding toxic chemicals associated with the oil and rubber industry, embalming chemicals, and other environmental toxins may help prevent brain cancers. Avoiding HIV infection is also suggested.

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