Brain cancer is a type of malignant brain tumor that affects the brain’s normal functioning. The tumor growth can originate from the brain cells( primary brain cancer) or spread from other body locations into the brain (secondary brain cancer) like lungs, breast, colon, etc.
Brain and central nervous system
Causes of Brain Cancer
There is no specific reason for brain cancer. However, some factors that could trigger brain cancer include;
- Exposure to high dose radiations because of other cancer treatment
- Hereditary conditions like neurofibromatosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Exposure to industrial chemicals and pesticides
- Infection with Epstein Barr virus
- Low immunity because of any immunocompromised disease
Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer
- severe headache, especially in the morning
- Lack of coordination and cognitive functions
- Brain fog and lack of mental alertness
- sudden loss of consciousness
- problems associated with speech and other work
- Seizures and changes in mental capacity
- Lack of concentration
- Nausea and vomiting
- tingling sensation in arms and legs
- Vision and eye movement disorders.
Please note all these symptoms also occur in other health conditions; therefore, it's always best to consult a doctor and get the diagnosis after taking the specific tests.
Possible Treatment of Brain Cancer
There are different treatments available to treat brain cancer after considering age, stage, and type of tumor, and some of them are mentioned below.
Partial or complete surgical removal of cancerous growth is done to treat brain cancer, especially in small benign tumors. Standard surgical procedures include craniotomy, stereotactic biopsy, radiosurgery using Gamma knife.
When surgical removal is not possible, radiotherapy is used to shrink the cancerous growth in the brain.
Single or combination of anti-cancer drugs is given to destroy the cancer cells. It can be provided in multiple cycles, with intermittent monitoring to check the effect of treatment on cancer cells.
It is under trial and is effective against certain types of brain cancers.
Risk factors of Brain Cancer
- Age:more common in children and adults.
- Gender:affect men more than women
- Ionizing radiations:high doses of ionizing radiation can trigger the cancer onset.
- Infections:certain viral infections could cuase lymphoma in the brain.
- Heavy chemical exposure:exposure to N-nitroso compounds increases the risk of brain cancer.
- Head injury:any blow or injury to the brain may also predispose to brain cancer in the presence of other predisposing factors.
Stages of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is classified into four stages or grades, depending upon whether they are benign or malignant. Grade I and II are benign forms of brain cancer, and grade III and IV are malignant forms of brain cancer.
It is the initial stage in which the brain cells are benign and look like normal ones.
The cells change shape and size, resembling the normal brain cells less and less.
The cells become abnormal and spread to other parts of the brain and surrounding areas.
The cells become malignant and spread rapidly.
Typical Test of Brain Cancer
After the medical history and neurological examination, the doctor specifies various tests to diagnose the brain cancer, which include:
Various imaging tests like CT scans, MRI, and PET scans are conducted to picture the cancerous growth and location inside the brain.
It can be done as a part of the operation or before that to determine whether the cancerous or tumorous growth is benign or malignant.
Primary prevention of Brain Cancer
There is no specific way to prevent brain cancer. However, early diagnosis can help control its spread across various regions and have better management.
Secondary prevention of Brain Cancer
- Reducing radiation exposure in the head: limiting the radiation exposure in head region can minimize the risk of developing brain cancer.
- Taking a good diet, physical activity, and regular checkups can prevent the onset of recurrence of brain cancers.
Differential Diagnosis of Brain Cancer
The symptoms of brain cancer resemble various other common conditions like migraines, clustering headaches, subdural hematomas, encephalitis, etc. It is always recommended to check with your doctor for final diagnosis and timely treatment.
Epidemiology of Brain Cancer
- There are around 120 types of brain cancers.
- Brain tumors roughly occur in 7-19 per 100000 population.
- Males are more likely to get brain cancer than females, except for meningiomas and pituitary adenomas.
- Brain tumors are also very common in children after leukemia.
Expected prognosis of Brain Cancer
The expected prognosis of brain cancer depends on age, grade, type of tumor, and genetic mutation. Certain brain cancers like medulloblastoma have a better prognosis with timely diagnosis and treatment. However, glioblastoma multiforme, a grade IV brain cancer, has an aggressive spread and is often fatal.
Natural progression of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer, if left untreated, multiples and destroys the brain cells. Both types of cancers (primary and secondary), as they grow, cause damage to the neural pathways and neural tissue of the brain. The growing tumor puts pressure on the nerves and other parts and causes disruption of various normal functions.
Pathophysiology of Brain Cancer
The cancerous cells are abnormal masses that are unable to perform their normal functions. These cells grow abnormally to big size and push the normal cells and damage the nerves, which causes various secondary symptoms.
Possible complication of Brain Cancer
Brain cancer is an aggressive form of cancer, especially if it is malignant. It can be fatal or may cause various complications like permanent brain damage affecting body movements (paralysis) and cognitive impairment, if not treated timely. The possible complication after the treatment of brain cancer are recurrence of cancer, coma or impairment of various body functions.
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