Brain Tumor Overview
A brain tumor is a cancerous or a benign abnormal growth of the brain cells. Any intracranial tumor which was created by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division represents a brain tumor. Brain tumors are caused by metastatic cancers, exposure to vinyl chloride or exposure to ionizing radiation. However, individuals with inherited conditions such as Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, multiple endocrine neoplasia or neurofibromatosis type 2 are considered at risk of developing a brain tumor. Some studies found that brain tumors may be caused by mobile phones but this is still a subject to debate. Some forms of tumors are thought to be caused by the mutation and deletion of the tumor suppressor genes.
The signs and symptoms range from headaches, vomiting, and somnolence to coma depending on the size and location of the tumor. The bigger the brain tumor gets the higher the intracranial pressure and the severity of the disease. The location of the tumor is also important given that some symptoms occur if when the tumor damages functional systems (such as motor, sensory, visual, etc.). Thus, patients may experience cognitive and behavioral impairment, personality changes, hemiparesis, aphasia, visual field impairment, double vision, etc. These symptoms are not however specific for brain tumors and they may be signs of various neurological conditions. The brain stroke is related to primary brain cancer since the brain stroke may be a complication or symptom of the latter.
There are over 120 types of brain tumor, classified based on the cell origin, the way that cells behave, from the last aggressive to most aggressive and so on. The classification is designed to provide information on the condition’s potential behavior. Some of the most common are Glioblastoma multiforme, Medulloblastoma, Astrocytoma, CNS lymphoma, Meningioma, Schwannoma or brain metastasis. But mainly they are classified in primary brain tumors that originate in the brain and secondary brain cancer.
This condition is diagnosed based on a neurological examination and different imaging exams and tests are also performed. These include brain scans (CTs or MRIs) or brain tissue analysis (brain biopsy). An accurate diagnosis is required in order to establish if the tumor is benign or malignant and to decide on the type of treatment that the patient should receive.
There are different ways of treating brain tumors and these include standard methods and the clinical trials. The standard treatment for this disease is surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. During surgery the cancer is removed but in order to decrease the chances that the cancer will recur many patients are given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery. The radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays or some other type of radiation to kill cancerous cells in the brain. Chemotherapy involves using drugs that can kill the cancerous cells or stop them from growing.
The prognosis of brain tumor varies depending on the type and location of the tumor and the age and general health of the patients but however the long-term survival term is considered to be five years even though up to 32% of the patients survive more than 5 years.