What were your first signs and symptoms of a brain tumor?
The symptoms of a tumor depend on how big it is and where it is in the brain. Some slow-growing tumors may not cause any symptoms at first. Eventually, the tumor may put pressure on the brain that may cause the signs and symptoms below
- Severe, persistent headaches that may not be related to an existing illness such as migraine is considered a common finding in patients with a brain tumor. Pain may be worse in the mornings and may be associated with nausea or vomiting. Headaches due to a brain tumor usually worsen with coughing, exercising or changing position. These types of headaches may not be relieved with over-the-counter medications.
- Another common scenario in which a brain tumor is first detected involves a person who is otherwise healthy having a sudden onset of seizures or fits.
Other common signs and symptoms include
- Irritability, drowsiness, apathy or forgetfulness
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Partial loss of vision or hearing
- Hallucinations, depression or mood swings
- Personality changes, including abnormal and uncharacteristic behavior
- Changes in intellect or memory problems
- Uncoordinated movements, unsteadiness or weakness on one side of the body
- Speech difficulties
- Loss of sense of smell
- Warning signs of brain tumor symptoms in women include nipple discharge, excessive body hair and lack of menstruation apart from the above symptoms
Any of these symptoms can occur alone or in combination.
What is a brain tumor?
Uncontrolled and abnormal cell growth in the brain is called a brain tumor. They are divided into two types
- Primary: If any brain cells grow and multiply abnormally to cause a brain tumor, this is called a primary tumor.
- Secondary: If abnormal cells have spread to the brain from another part of the body, this is called a secondary tumor. Secondary or metastatic brain tumors are the most common type of brain tumors and they usually spread via the bloodstream. Cancers of the breast, lungs, kidney and skin are the ones that most commonly spread to the brain.
What are the common causes of a brain tumor?
The causes of brain tumor are not yet clearly known. However, there are common risk factors or triggers that may cause a brain tumor
- Being overweight or obese increases the risk of certain types of brain tumors.
- Unhealthy lifestyle including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption may trigger abnormal cell growth.
- The risk of getting brain tumors becomes higher with increasing age.
- Repeated exposure to radiation through ionizing radiation, X-rays, and computed tomography (CT) scans, power lines, nuclear plants, mobile phones and cell phone towers may trigger tumors.
- Exposure to certain harmful chemicals may trigger a brain tumor. Examples include diesel exhaust, coal tar volatiles, tobacco smoke, arsenic compounds, cadmium compounds, nickel compounds and more.
- People who have had cancer such as leukemia as a child have a higher risk of brain tumors as an adult. Adults who have had cancer also may have a chance of getting brain tumors, but further research is needed to confirm this finding.
- In some rare cases, brain tumors may be genetically inherited. If a lot of people in a family have had brain tumors, an individual may be at an increased risk of the condition.
What are the treatment options for a brain tumor?
Treatment for a brain tumor may be customized according to the stage of tumor and patient needs. Surgery is usually the first line of treatment for brain tumors.
One or more of the following therapies may be recommended to treat the cancer or help relieve symptoms.
- Craniotomy: The most common surgery for brain tumors is craniotomy, which involves opening the skull and removing the tumor.
- Surgery using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): When a brain tumor is in a challenging location, neurosurgeons may use this innovative open MRI system that allows them to view the tumor during surgery. This helps them remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging other parts of the brain.
- Radiation therapy and chemotherapy: These may be able to stop or slow the growth of brain tumors that cannot be removed with surgery. Chemotherapy alone may be ineffective in treating brain tumors.
- Proton therapy: This delivers high radiation doses directly to the brain tumor site with no damage to nearby healthy tissues. It may be used to treat tumors in very sensitive areas, including in the base of the skull and along the spine.
- Laser interstitial thermal therapy: This is performed by implanting a laser catheter into the tumor and heating it to temperatures high enough to kill the tumor.
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