Posted on : 06/06/2022 Views : 547
Brain tumour: When is the right time to see a doctor?
Every year, on the 8th of June, we observe World Brain Tumour Day. This was initiated in the year 2000 by the German Brain Tumour Association and soon after it was announced to be an international event, so as to pay a tribute to all the patients suffering from this life-threatening condition, as well as to raise awareness and educate people about the same. You will be surprised to know that there are over 120 different types of brain tumours, which collectively account for around 85 to 90 per cent of all the tumours of the central nervous system. This blog will help you understand all you need to know about brain tumours and when it is important to see a doctor.
What is a brain tumour?
A brain tumour is a mass or lump of abnormal cells that develop in the brain. These cells are a result of abnormal and uncontrollable division which is caused by certain mutations or changes in the DNA of the cells. These abnormal cells have a longer life span as compared to the healthy cells and while the latter die and are replaced by a new one, the former keeps accumulating and sticking together, eventually resulting in the formation of a tumour.
Now, brain tumours can be of various different types, and the most common basis of classification is the nature of the cells involved i.e. whether they are cancerous or non-cancerous.
Brain tumours that are made up of cancerous cells are known as malignant brain tumours. Such tumours are usually classified as grade 3 or grade 4 and are highly aggressive in nature. These are further classified as primary or secondary, based upon the area of their origin. Primary brain tumours are those malignant masses that originate from any part of the brain, whereas secondary brain tumours are those that are the result of metastasis. This happens when cancer cells, that develop in some other part of the body, travel to the brain via the bloodstream and result in the formation of a tumour there. Malignant brain tumours can be removed surgically if these are localized, however these present with high risks of recurrence.
Non-cancerous brain tumours are commonly referred to as benign brain tumours. These are not usually aggressive in nature and do not metastasize. However, these should not be taken lightly as the mass can grow and compress delicate parts of the brain giving rise to debilitating symptoms. Benign tumours are usually localized, which makes it quite easy to treat them. In the majority of the cases, the tumour does not come back after being removed.
Classic symptoms of brain tumour:
The symptoms associated with brain tumours can either be general or specific. In many cases, the patients do not experience any symptoms initially and these tend to develop with time as the problem progresses. The symptoms vary from one patient to another depending upon a variety of different factors including the type of tumour, its grade, size, nature of cells and the health history of the patient. We have listed some classic symptoms that indicate the prevalence of brain tumours, both malignant and benign.
● Headaches range from mild to severe and can aggravate with time. These tend to be more severe in the mornings.
● Mild to moderate headache lasting more than a month. Many times headaches are misdiagnosed as atypical migraine headaches.
● Seizures that tend to vary from one person to another and can be easily taken care of with the help of medication. These can be myoclonic, Tonic-clonic, sensory and complex.
● Abrupt changes in personality
● Loss of memory
● Feeling nauseated
● Chronic fatigue and weakness
● Sleep-related disorders
● Weakness of one side of the body
● Problems related to memory retention
● Inability to indulge in normal day-to-day activities
● Difficulties related to motor skills
● Gait imbalance
● Partial or complete loss of vision
● Change in the perception of touch
It is important to see a Brain Tumour doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Although these do not necessarily mean that you have a brain tumour but it is crucial to get yourself evaluated to confirm the diagnosis.
The most important investigative tool for detecting and assessing brain tumours is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
It helps to generate more detailed images than CT scans. MRI of the brain, spinal cord, or both, may be done, depending on the type of tumour suspected and the likelihood that it will spread in the CNS.