Know everything about Brain Cancer

Brain Cancer

As per the 2019 Globocan Report, issued by the International Association of Cancer Registries (IARC), there are Did you know that a brain tumor is ranked as the 10th most common tumor in India?

more than 28,142 new brain tumor cases annually in India.

To increase awareness about brain cancer, it is very crucial to understand what brain cancer is, the different types and causes of brain cancer, and also be aware of the signs and symptoms.

What is Brain Cancer? 

Brain cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the brain. It is a malignant tumor that often grows at a rapid pace, however, growth rates can vary. These tumors disrupt the way the body works and can be life-threatening.

The growth rate and location of a brain tumor can determine how it will affect the function of the nervous system.

Let us discuss the types of Brain Cancer-

 

What are the Types of Brain Cancer

Brain cancer begins in the brain, and this is sometimes referred to as primary brain cancer. One can also develop cancer that has spread to the brain after starting somewhere else in the body. This is known as metastatic brain cancer. There are two types such as – primary brain cancer and metastatic brain cancer. Metastatic cancerous tumors in the brain are more common than primary brain tumour.

There are various types of Primary Brain Cancer, some examples such as-

 

  1. Acoustic Neuroma – Acoustic Neuroma is also known as Vestibular Schwannoma and this type of cancer forms on the sheaths that protect nerves. Sometimes, it also affects the hearing nerves.
  2. Chordoma – Chordoma forms at the base of the spine or skull near the pituitary gland. They can also develop from the cells present in the pituitary gland.
  3. Craniopharyngioma – This tumor develops from the optical nerve at the base of the brain and near the pituitary gland.
  4. Germ Cell Tumors – As the name suggests, they develop from germ cells {which are the reproductive cells of the body} and are usually found in 11-30 years age group. This can either be malignant or benign.
  5. Gliomas – It is a tumor that starts in supportive brain tissue and usually affects three types of cells – such as astrocytes, ependymal cells, and oligodendrocytes. They can develop across the brain and nervous system.
  6. Medulloblastoma – It is more common in children, and it develops in embryonic cells early as an embryo develops. Usually, they develop at the lower portion in the back of the brain.

 What are the different grades of tumour

 Grades of Brain Cancer – Grade I, Grade II, Grade III, Grade IV

Grading basically tells about the aggressiveness  of the cancers. Tumors are graded by how normal or abnormal the cells look. A doctor will use the measurement to determine the grade of brain cancer and help in planning the treatment. The grading can also give an idea of how fast the tumor may grow and spread.

Grade I – The cell looks healthy, and it multiplies slowly. They are therefore less aggressive. There is a likelihood of long-term survival.

Grade II – The cell looks slightly abnormal and have a faster rate of multiplication.  The tumor can easily spread to nearby tissue and can recur later on. The Grade II is considered as a more life-threatening grade.

Grade III – The cells are highly abnormal and are actively growing in nearby brain tissue, and these tumors tend to recur.

Grade IV – All cells are abnormal, and they grow and spread rapidly. They are the most aggressive tumors.

Stages of Brain Cancer 

Staging means the extent of tumour. Brain Cancers are staged according to their cell type and grade and extent.

ity (disease rate) and mortality (death rate) in patients.

us understand what are the causes:

What are the Causes of Brain Cancer?

Although the exact reason for brain cancer is unknown, however, certain factors increase the risk of brain cancer.

The factors that increase this type of  cancer risks are exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation, family history of brain cancer, HIV Infection, smoking cigarettes, increased age, exposure to fertilizers and pesticides, working with elements such as lead, plastic, rubber, and environmental toxins and chemicals.

Cancer in another body part is also a risk factor. Some cancers spread quickly to the brain are lung cancer, breast cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer, and melanoma cancer.

 

1. Increased Intracranial Pressure (ICP) – In most of the patients, tumour in brain causes increased ICP. The common symptoms of increased ICP are headache, vomiting, and disturbance of consciousness.

A) Headache – Headache is a common and initial symptom in half of brain tumor patients, which is experienced by the majority of people.
B) Vomiting – Uncontrolled vomiting is an occasional occurrence which comes with a headache.

2. Consciousness Changes – At some point in time, patients experience changes in consciousness and brain quality. A brain tumor can cause a wide range of changes in mental health and can also cause personality changes.

3. Seizures – Almost 35% of patients are associated with seizures. The age increases the risk of epilepsy caused by a tumor, especially for patients who are beyond 45 years.

4. Focal Neurological Symptoms – These focal neurological symptoms may include different modalities of sensation, such as tingling and weakness of a limb changes.

Tests to diagnose Brain Cancer 

There are various tests to diagnose brain cancer, such as –

 

  1. Medical History and Physical Examination – There could be a possibility that a doctor will get a complete medical history while focusing on the symptoms. They may also conduct a neurological exam to check the functioning of the brain. This exam tests reflexes, muscle strength, eye and mouth movement, vision, coordination, balance, and other functions.
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scan – MRI Scans are perfect for brain diseases and are one of the best ways to scan for tumors.  There are particular types of MRI such as – Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA), Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), Magnetic Resonance Perfusion, and Functional MRI (fMRI)
  3. Computed Tomography (CT) Scan – A CT scan uses special x-rays to make detailed cross-sectional images of one’s brain. CT scans  they show greater detail of bone structures near the tumor.
  4. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan – For a PET Scan, the patient is injected with a radioactive substance which usually collects in tumor cells. A unique camera is used to create a picture of radioactivity areas in the body. This helps us to look for tumour outside the brain.
  5. Brain Tumor Biopsy – it means taking out a piece of tumour to study under the microscope to know the subtype of Brain tumour.

 

Treatments for Brain Cancer  

 The treatment differs on several factors, such as a person’s age, health, and type of tumor. Usually, treatment involves a team of surgeons, radiotherapy and medical oncology. 

  1. Surgery – Surgery is the most common treatment for most of the brain tumor patients, and the operation is also known as a craniotomy. 
  2. Radiation Therapy – Radiation Therapy, also known as radiotherapy, is the usage of high-powered rays. It is used to damage the cancer cells and stop them from growing. 
  3. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells, and the doctor may use just one drug or sometimes a combination of oral medications. The drugs are also sometimes injected into the cerebrospinal fluid. 

How is the follow up of brain cancer done after treatment is over?

Usually a patient need to follow up regularly as prescribed by the by the testing team who follow standard international guidelines. This helps to detect an Early recurrence. 

Conclusion  

In case anyone is facing any of the above mentioned symptoms; it is advised to visit an oncologist. The key to diagnosing brain cancer involves the patient understanding what type of brain cancer it is, what is the stage of the tumour and lastly, what are the more beneficial treatments available.

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