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Brain Tumor Treatment and Diagnosis


Brain is a soft and spongy mass of tissue that is protected by skull bones, meninges and cerebrospinal fluid. Cells are the building blocks of our body and brain too is made up of cells and controls various functions of our body. The abnormal growth and division of brain cells leads to brain tumor. Brain tumor can be benign or malignant and malignant ones can be primary or secondary.

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Cause of Brain tumor

The exact cause of brain tumor is still a mystery but certain factors are found to increase the risk of brain tumor:

  • People exposed to ionizing radiation from high dose x-rays
  • Rarely, but a family history of brain tumor can increase the risk
  • Although not established but brain injury or over-exposure to chemicals may also cause brain tumor

Symptoms of brain tumor

Depend upon its type, size and location in the brain. As every part of the brain has distinct function, tumor of every part will cause distinct symptoms. The most common symptoms of brain tumor can be understood as follows

  • Presence of tumour in brain increase in contents of skull rise in pressure inside skull (intracranial pressure). There may be
    • Headache
    • Vomiting
    • visual blurring.
  • Presence of tumour in brain irritation of destruction of surrounding brain non-localising and generalized symptoms. There may be
    • Seizures
    • unexplained fatigue
    • behavioural changes
    • memory disturbances
    • cognitive decline
    • endocrine (hormonal) disturbances.
  • Presence of tumour in brain irritation of destruction of surrounding brain symptoms representing function of areas involved. There may be
    • weakness or complete paralysis of limbs of body
    • Loss of senses like sensory (touch), motor (movement control), speech, hearing and vision
    • Numbness or tingling sensations in limbs or other parts of the body
    • Problem with walking, balancing and memory

Diagnosis of brain tumor

Diagnosis of brain tumor is made on the basis of history of the symptoms and examination by clinician neurologist or neurosurgeon. This is then further aided by diagnostic tests like CT scan, Angiogram and MRI to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of brain tumor

While deciding the treatment of brain tumor, its type, location and size along with factors like patients age (child or adult) and general health should be considered. Generally the treatment includes:

  • Surgery: Surgery is performed by a neurosurgeon with an attempt to remove either the entire or maximum part of tumor without damaging surrounding vital brain tissues to reduce pressure on brain and hence relieve symptoms. Removal or reduction of tumour mass will also relieve symptoms due to irritation or damage of brain by tumour. Surgery also provides tumour tissue for further tests like histopathological examination, immunological typing so as to further optimize treatment.
  • Radiotherapy: High-power rays are used in radiotherapy to either damage cancer cells/tumor tissue or stop their growth. This is useful as adjunct to surgery, when either tumour was not possible to be completely removed or its examination later reveals highly aggressive characters. Sometimes, if surgery is not possible and in certain tumours, if they are small, radiotherapy may be used directly without surgery.
  • Chemotherapy: Single or combination drugs are given either orally or by injection to kill cancer cells. Sometimes, intrathecal chemotherapy is given by injecting drug directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. Just like radiotherapy, it is used as either adjunct to surgery, or sometimes as primary treatment.

Authored by Dr. Shyam Sundar K

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Dr. Shyam Sundar K

Dr. Shyam Sundar K is an eminent name in the field of neurology. He is one of the best neurosurgeon in Chennai, Tamil Nadu

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