MEDICAL SECOND OPINION

Brain Cancer

What Defines a Brain Tumor?

A brain tumor represents a growth caused by the unchecked proliferation and accumulation of cells in the brain.

The brain comprises various cell types, leading to diverse tumors that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Primary tumors originate from the brain's cells, while secondary or metastatic tumors start elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. Thus, brain tumors are categorized into primary or metastatic and further into benign or malignant types.

Tumors are also classified based on the originating cell type, with examples including:
•    Astrocytoma
•    Glioma
•    Glioblastoma
•    Acoustic neuroma
•    Choroid plexus carcinoma
•    Ependymoma
•    Meningioma
•    Oligodendroglioma
•    Pituitary gland tumors
Your healthcare provider will determine your specific cancer type using these classifications.

Symptomatology

The symptoms of brain tumors vary widely, influenced by the cancer's cell type, location, size, spread, and the anatomical structures affected.

Key indicators prompting a consultation with a neurology specialist include:

New or changing headache patterns or severe headaches

•  Visual impairments

•  Hearing disorders

•  Balance disorders

•  Nausea and vomiting

•  Seizures

•  Specific functional losses (e.g., calculation or writing difficulties)

•  Hormonal imbalance symptoms (e.g., thyroid issues, menstrual irregularities, abnormal extremity growth)

•  Mood swings

•  Attention and memory deficits

•  Sensory changes or muscle weakness

Prompt medical evaluation is crucial for early diagnosis and treatment, significantly impacting outcomes.

Risk Factors

While the exact cause of primary brain tumors often remains unknown, identified risk factors include:
•    Age
•    Family history
•    Radiation exposure
•    Male gender
•    Caucasian ethnicity
•    Diagnostic Approach

Suspicion of a brain tumor necessitates a thorough neurological examination, assessing all sensory modalities, muscle strength, reflexes, posture, and movement patterns. Imaging techniques, like MRI, are then employed to visualize the tumor’s dimensions and location, sometimes using contrast agents for enhanced clarity. Biopsies and additional scans may be used to identify tumors originating from other body parts.

Treatment Modalities

Brain tumor treatment is customized based on the tumor's origin, size, location, spread, and impact on surrounding structures, including:
•    Surgical Removal: If accessible, the tumor may be fully or partially removed.
•    Radiation Therapy: This involves using high-energy beams to destroy cancer cells, either externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy).
•    Stereotactic Radiosurgery: A precise, incision-free radiation therapy that spares surrounding healthy tissue.
•    Chemotherapy: Drug-based cancer treatment, administered orally or intravenously, with specific cycles and potential side effects managed by your doctor.
•    Targeted Therapy: Utilizes drugs designed to target specific cancer cell abnormalities determined by genetic testing of the cancer cells.

Outcomes

The success of treatment and the potential for nerve damage are crucial outcome determinants. While benign tumors often can be removed entirely, managing malignant tumors may be more complex. Even partial removal can alleviate symptoms, with subsequent physical therapy and rehabilitation aiding in recovery and quality of life improvement.

Your treatment and rehabilitation are tailored to your post-treatment condition to address residual issues and enhance your quality of life.

Created at 15.06.2024 04:03
Updated at 15.06.2024 04:03

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