What is Brain Cancer?
Brain cancer refers to the abnormal growth of cells within the brain or the surrounding tissues. These abnormal cells can form a tumor, which can interfere with normal brain function and even become life-threatening if left untreated. Brain cancer can occur at any age and can affect any part of the brain or spinal cord. In this article, we will discuss the types of brain cancer, their causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Types of Brain Cancer:
There are two main types of brain cancer: primary brain tumors and secondary brain tumors.
Primary Brain Tumors: Primary brain tumors originate within the brain and are categorized by the type of cell that they arise from. The most common primary brain tumors are:
Gliomas: Gliomas are tumors that arise from the supportive cells in the brain called glial cells. They can be further classified into three types: astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas.
Meningiomas: Meningiomas are tumors that arise from the meninges, the protective covering of the brain and spinal cord.
Pituitary tumors: Pituitary tumors are tumors that arise from the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain.
Secondary Brain Tumors: Secondary brain tumors, also known as metastatic brain tumors, originate from cancer cells that have spread to the brain from other parts of the body. The most common types of cancer that can spread to the brain include lung, breast, skin, and colon cancer.
Causes of Brain Cancer:
The exact cause of brain cancer is not known, but there are several risk factors that have been identified, including:
Age: Brain cancer can occur at any age, but the risk increases as you get older.
Genetics: Some rare genetic disorders, such as neurofibromatosis and Li-Fraumeni syndrome, can increase the risk of developing brain cancer.
Exposure to radiation: People who have received radiation therapy to the head for other medical conditions are at an increased risk of developing brain cancer.
Exposure to chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as vinyl chloride and formaldehyde, has been linked to an increased risk of brain cancer.
Symptoms of Brain Cancer:
The symptoms of brain cancer can vary depending on the location of the tumor, but some common symptoms include:
Headaches: Headaches that are severe and persistent, especially if they are accompanied by vomiting or changes in vision, should be evaluated by a doctor.
Seizures: Seizures that occur for the first time in adults should be evaluated by a doctor.
Cognitive changes: Changes in memory, concentration, or other cognitive abilities should be evaluated by a doctor.
Weakness or numbness: Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs can be a sign of a brain tumor.
Changes in vision or hearing: Changes in vision or hearing can be a sign of a brain tumor.
Diagnosis of Brain Cancer:
The diagnosis of brain cancer typically involves a combination of imaging tests, such as MRI or CT scans, and a biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of the tumor tissue for examination under a microscope. A neurologist or neurosurgeon can perform these tests and make a diagnosis.
Treatment of Brain Cancer:
The treatment of brain cancer depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s overall health. Some common treatments include:
Surgery: Surgery is often the first step in treating brain cancer. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while minimizing damage to surrounding brain tissue.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery or chemotherapy
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be taken orally or injected into a vein.
Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy uses drugs that specifically target cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells intact.
Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy works by stimulating the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells.
In some cases, a combination of treatments may be used. Your doctor will discuss the best treatment plan for you based on the type and stage of your brain cancer.
Pediatric Brain Tumors / Pediatric Brain Cancer:
Pediatric brain tumors are a type of cancer that develops in the brain or spinal cord of children and young adults. Although they are relatively rare, they are the most common solid tumor and the leading cause of cancer-related death in children. Understanding the different types of pediatric brain tumors, their symptoms, and treatment options is critical for patients and families.
There are many different types of pediatric brain tumors, each with unique characteristics and treatment options. Some of the most common types include:
Astrocytoma: A tumor that originates in astrocytes, the cells that support and nourish nerve cells in the brain.
Medulloblastoma: A fast-growing tumor that forms in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination.
Ependymoma: A tumor that forms in the ependymal cells that line the ventricles of the brain and the central canal of the spinal cord.
Craniopharyngioma: A rare tumor that develops near the pituitary gland and can cause hormonal imbalances.
Symptoms of pediatric brain tumors can vary depending on the location and size of the tumor, but may include headaches, seizures, vision or hearing problems, balance issues, and developmental delays. Children may also experience changes in personality or behavior, and may have difficulty with school work.
Treatment options for pediatric brain tumors typically include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies. Because pediatric brain tumors can be complex and challenging to treat, a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers, including pediatric oncologists, neurosurgeons, and radiation oncologists, often work together to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient. The goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving brain function and minimizing side effects.
Brain cancer is a serious and complex disease that can affect anyone. However, with early detection and treatment, many people with brain cancer can live long and healthy lives. It’s important to know the risk factors and symptoms of brain cancer, and to seek medical attention if you experience any of them. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with brain cancer, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. With the right treatment and support, it is possible to beat brain cancer and live a fulfilling life.
We at Basavatarakam Indo American Cancer Hospital and Research Institute’s Neuro-Oncology department is committed to providing state-of-the-art care for patients suffering from brain cancers and nerve disorders. The department is staffed with highly trained neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, and other specialists who work together to provide comprehensive care for patients with brain tumors.
At our hospital, patients with brain tumors can receive all aspects of their care under one roof, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Our neurosurgeons perform complex brain surgeries using advanced techniques such as awake craniotomy, image-guided surgery, and minimally invasive surgery. We also offer advanced radiation therapy options such as stereotactic radiosurgery and proton therapy.
Our medical oncologists work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans that may include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy. Our team of specialists is dedicated to providing the most effective and least invasive treatments to help patients achieve the best possible outcomes.
In addition, our Neuro-Oncology department provides treatment for patients with neurologic complications related to cancer or cancer therapies. We understand that cancer treatment can have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life, and we work closely with patients to manage symptoms such as pain, seizures, and cognitive changes.
Each year, our hospital treats more than 350 newly diagnosed brain tumor patients. Our multidisciplinary team approach to care ensures that each patient receives the most comprehensive, personalized care possible. Our goal is to provide patients with the best possible outcomes and quality of life, while also supporting them and their families throughout their treatment journey.
Our Senior Neuro-Oncologist Dr. K. Venkateswara Rao created a series of videos to provide complete information about #braintumors, myths & facts about brain tumors, diagnosis and treatment options for brain cancer. These videos provides a comprehensive overview of brain tumors.