World Brain Tumour Day is celebrated on June 8 every year to educate people about the disease. The day annual event which was started by the German Brain Tumour Association in the year 2000 aims to raise awareness and educate people about brain tumour disease. Brian Tumour Day is observed to pay tribute to brain tumour patients and their families, caregivers, scientists and health professionals.
Statistics show that as many as 500 new cases of brain tumour are detected every day globally. As per the National Health Portal, the cases of brain tumours are on the rise in India. The government has introduced the National Cancer Control Programme for early detection of tumours and thus control and prevention of cancer.
What are brain tumours?
When cells proliferate at an abnormal rate, they produce a mass of aberrant cells within the brain, which is known as a brain tumour. Any expansion in such a small location can generate complications. Brain tumours can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous) (benign). The pressure inside your skull might rise as benign or malignant tumours grow in size. This can result in brain damage, which can be fatal.
Types of brain tumours
According to Healthline, Brain tumours are categorized as primary or secondary. A primary brain tumour originates in your brain. Many primary brain tumours are benign. A secondary brain tumour, also known as a metastatic brain tumour, occurs when cancer cells spread to your brain from another organ, such as your lung or breast.
Primary brain tumours
Primary brain tumours originate in your brain. They can develop from your:
- brain cells
- the membranes that surround your brain, which is called meninges
- nerve cells
Primary tumours can be benign or cancerous. In adults, the most common types of brain tumours are gliomas and meningiomas.
Gliomas are tumours that develop from glial cells. These cells normally:
- support the structure of your central nervous system
- provide nutrition to your central nervous system
- clean cellular waste
- break down dead neurons
Gliomas can develop from different types of glial cells.
The types of tumours that begin in glial cells are:
- astrocytic tumours such as astrocytomas, which originate in the cerebrum
- oligodendroglial tumours, which are often found in the frontal-temporal lobes
- glioblastomas, which originate in the supportive brain tissue and are the most aggressive type
Other primary brain tumours
Other primary brain tumours include:
- pituitary tumours, which are usually benign
- pineal gland tumours, which can be benign or malignant
- ependymomas, which are usually benign
- craniopharyngiomas, which occur mostly in children and are benign but can have clinical symptoms like changes in vision and premature puberty
- primary central nervous system (CNS) lymphomas, which are malignant
- primary germ cell tumours of the brain, which can be benign or malignant
- meningiomas, which originate in the meninges
- schwannomas, which originate in cells that produce the protective cover of your nerves (myelin sheath) called Schwann cells
Meningiomas and schwannomas are most common in persons aged 40 to 70. Women are more likely than men to have meningiomas. Schwannomas affect both men and women equally. Although these tumours are usually benign, their size and placement can cause difficulties. Cancerous meningiomas and schwannomas are uncommon, yet they can be deadly.
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 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 your body to another.
What are the symptoms of brain tumours?
The symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on where the tumour is located. Seizures, loss of sensation in arms or legs, frequent and severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and problems with speech, vision, and hearing are the most prevalent symptoms.
Headaches are a common symptom of a brain tumour. You may experience headaches that:
- are worse in the morning when waking up
- occur while you’re sleeping
- are made worse by coughing, sneezing, or exercise
You may also experience:
- blurred vision or double vision
- seizures (especially in adults)
- weakness of a limb or part of the face
- a change in mental functioning
Other common symptoms include:
- memory loss
- difficulty writing or reading
- changes in the ability to hear, taste, or smell
- decreased alertness, which may include drowsiness and loss of consciousness
- difficulty swallowing
- dizziness or vertigo
- eye problems, such as drooping eyelids and unequal pupils
- uncontrollable movements
- hand tremors
- loss of balance
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- trouble speaking or understanding what others are saying
- changes in mood, personality, emotions, and behaviour
- difficulty walking
- muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg
Symptoms of pituitary tumours
The following symptoms can occur with pituitary tumours:
- nipple discharge, or galactorrhea
- lack of menstruation in women
- development of breast tissue in men, or gynecomastia
- enlargement of the hands and feet
- sensitivity to heat or cold
- increased amounts of body hair, or hirsutism
- low blood pressure
- changes in vision, such as blurry vision or tunnel vision
How are brain tumours diagnosed?
A physical exam and a review of your medical history are used to diagnose a brain tumour.
A thorough neurological evaluation is part of the physical examination. Your doctor will do a test to determine whether or not your cranial nerves are healthy. The nerves that originate in your brain are known as cranial nerves.
An ophthalmoscope, which is a device that flashes a light through your pupils and onto your retinas, will be used by your doctor to examine the inside of your eyes. Your doctor will be able to see how your pupils react to light as a result of this. It also allows your doctor to see directly into your eyes to check for any optic nerve enlargement. Changes in the optic nerve can occur as the pressure inside the skull rises.
The doctor may also evaluate your:
- muscle strength
- ability to do mathematical calculations
Your doctor may order more tests after they finish the physical exam; CT scan of the head, MRI of the head, Angiography, biopsy, skull x-rays.
Treatment of brain tumours
The treatment of a brain tumour depends on:
- the type of tumour
- the size of the tumour
- the location of the tumour
- your general health
The most common therapy for malignant brain tumours is surgery. The goal is to remove as much cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy areas of the brain. While the position of some tumours allows for easy and safe excision, the position of others may limit the amount of tumour that can be removed. Even partial brain cancer removal can be advantageous.
Infection and clotting are two risks of brain surgery. Surgical removal of clinically threatening benign tumours is also performed. Metastatic brain tumours are treated according to original cancer’s guidelines.
Other therapies, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy, can be taken with surgery.
After neurosurgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can all help you recover.