A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.
Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain (secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors).
How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate as well as location of a brain tumor determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.
Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.
- Symptoms of Brain Tumor
Symptoms of brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body, where the tumor lies affects the way symptoms are manifested.
Some tumors have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health. Other tumors may have symptoms that develop slowly.
A common initial symptom of a brain tumor is headaches. Often, they don't respond to the usual headache remedies. Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumors.
Other symptoms include:
- Changes in speech or hearing
- Changes in vision
- Balance problems
- Problems with walking
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Problems with memory
- Personality changes
- Inability to concentrate
- Weakness in one part of the body
- Morning vomiting without nausea
It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don't assume you have a brain tumor just because you experience some of them. Check with your doctor.
- How are Brain Tumors Treated?
Surgery to remove the tumor is typically the first option once a brain tumor has been diagnosed. However, some tumors can't be surgically removed because of their location in the brain. In those cases, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be options for killing and shrinking the tumor.
Sometimes, chemotherapy or radiation is also used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells. Tumors that are deep in the brain or in areas that are difficult to reach may be treated with Gamma Knife therapy, which is a form of highly focused radiation therapy.
Because treatment for cancer also can damage healthy tissue, it's important to discuss possible side and long-term effects of whatever treatment is being used with your doctor. The doctor can explain the risk and the possibility of losing certain faculties. The doctor can also explain the importance of planning for rehabilitation following treatment. Rehabilitation could involve working with several different therapists, such as:
- Physical therapist to regain strength and balance
- Speech therapist to address problems with speaking, expressing thoughts, or swallowing
- Occupational therapist to help manage daily activities such as using the bathroom, bathing, and dressing.