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A brain tumor also known as an intracranial tumor, is an abnormal mass of cells in the brain that reproduce in an uncontrollable way. There are two main groups of brain tumors namely primary and metastatic.

Primary brain tumors are those that develop from the brain’s tissue or its immediate environment. Glial (consisting of glial cells) and non-glial (formed on or in the structures of the brain, including nerves, blood vessels, and glands) primary tumors are classified as benign or malignant.

Tumors that develop in other parts of the body, such as the breast or lungs, and spread to the brain typically through circulation are referred to as metastatic brain tumors.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors

The most common symptoms of brain tumors include:

  • Finding it difficult to think, speak or find a word
  • Headaches
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Personality changes
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of hearing
  • Vision changes
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion and disorientation

Causes and Risk Factors of Brain Tumors

It is still not yet known the real cause of brain tumors; however, it is believed that genetics or environment or even both play a role in the occurrence of brain tumors. The following are some possible causes and risk factors for brain tumors:

  • Cancers that metastasize to different sections of the body
  • Genetic abnormalities that make a person more likely to produce too many cells
  • Exposure to certain types of radiation

Diagnosis of Brain Tumors

Brain scans, a neurological examination, and if it can be done safely, a biopsy are the recommended diagnostic tests done to detect brain tumors.

  • A variety of tests to assess neurological abilities like balance, hearing, vision, and reflexes may be part of a neurological examination.
  • Different imaging techniques such as CT scan, MRI, angiogram, or X-rays may be used to detect tumors and pinpoint their exact locations in the brain.
  • If a biopsy (collection of tissue samples for laboratory analysis) is possible, doctors can utilize it to determine how aggressive the tumor is. Additionally, examination of the tumor tissue for any biomarkers that might aid in individualized treatment may also be recommended.

Brain Tumor Treatment

Surgery is the recommended treatment option for brain tumors. For some cancers, surgical removal and ongoing observation may be the only forms of treatment required. Craniotomies, neuroendoscopies, laser ablation, and laser interstitial thermal treatment are common surgical methods for removing brain tumors.

Brain cancer can also be treated with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which can help decrease the tumor, slow its growth, and/or stop it from returning. Some of the radiation therapies for brain tumors include proton therapy, stereotactic radiosurgery, and external beam radiation therapy.

Prognosis

A diagnosis of a brain tumor can be terrifying. The next steps, whether they involve observation, surgery, radiation therapy, or another type of treatment, should be decided in collaboration with the medical team. There are several variables that will determine how effective the patient’s personal outcome will be, including:

  • Age and overall health
  • The type of tumor, its size, grade, and location
  • One’s treatment preferences
  • How much the brain tumor affects the patient’s ability to function
  • For how long the patient experienced the symptoms before he/she was diagnosed with a brain tumor
  • The skills of the medical team
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