Symptoms and Treatment of Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer

A tumor is an abnormal growth of body tissue. Tumors can be cancerous (malignant) or noncancerous (benign).

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the brain, which can be cancerous or non-cancerous (benign).

Primary (true) brain tumors are commonly located in the posterior cranial fossa in children and in the anterior two-thirds of the cerebral hemispheres in adults, although they can affect any part of the brain.

Brain tumors can be grouped by the type of cell involved (such as meningioma, astrocytoma, lymphoma, etc.) or by the location in the brain. Metastasized cells may grow in one or several areas of the brain. Almost half of all brain tumors are non-cancerous (benign), slow growing and respond well to treatment.

A primary malignant brain tumour is a cancer which arises from a cell within the brain. The cells of the tumour grow into and damage normal brain tissue. Also, like benign brain tumours, they can increase the pressure inside the skull. However, unlike most other types of malignant tumours, primary brain tumours rarely spread (metastasise) to other parts of the body.

A secondary malignant brain tumour means that a cancer which started in another part of the body has spread to the brain. Many types of cancer can spread (metastasise) to the brain. The most common types that do this are cancers of the breast, lung, colon, kidney and skin (melanoma).

Brain Cancer Symptoms

Symptoms can be caused by:
  • A tumor pressing on or encroaching on other parts of your brain and keeping them from functioning normally.
  • Swelling in the brain caused by the tumor or surrounding inflammation.
  • The symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are similar.

The following symptoms are most common:
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures

Other nonspecific symptoms and signs include the following:
  • Altered mental status -- changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
  • Nausea, vomiting -- especially early in the morning
  • Abnormalities in vision
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity

Treatment of Brain Tumors

When possible, brain tumors are removed through surgery. While many can be removed with little or no damage to the brain, others are located where surgical removal is difficult or impossible without destroying critical parts of the brain.

Brain damage caused by surgery can lead to partial paralysis, changes in sensation (feeling), weakness and poor thinking. Even so, removing a tumor is necessary when it threatens important brain structures. Even when it can't cure a malignancy, surgery can help reduce the size of the tumor, ease symptoms and help determine the type of tumor and best treatment.

Other treatments for brain tumors include: Radiation, Chemotherapy, Stem cell transplantation

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