Brain Tumor Causes
It is known that, brain tumors develop when some of the genes on the chromosomes of a cell get damaged or when they do not function properly. Normally, the genes regulate at the rate at which the cell divides. There can be cases where the child may be born with partial damage in one or more of these genes. This damage may get worse with the environmental factors. The environmental injury to the genes can be the only reason for brain tumors in certain other cases. Researchers couldn’t find why environmental factors cause brain tumor in some people and why not in some others.
The cell grows into a tumor when a cell divides rapidly and the internal mechanism is damaged. In certain cases, the body’s immune system may detect and kill the abnormal cell. The substances produced by the tumors block the power of the immune system to identify the abnormal tumor cells. A substance produced by the tumor called angiogenesis factor may promote the growth of blood vessels.
The symptoms of brain tumor may vary according to its location. The following symptoms can be shown in certain types of brain tumors:
- Headaches that may get severe in the morning.
- Convulsions and seizures
- Dizziness or loss of balance
- Vomiting or nausea
- Difficulty in speaking and thinking
- Vision changes
- Hearing changes
- Disorientation and confusion
- Personality changes
- Paralysis or weakness in one part or one side of the body
There are advanced imaging techniques that can find out brain tumors. Some of the most common diagnostic tools may include:
- CT Scan
- Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy- Used to examine the chemical profile of the tumor whereby determining the nature of the lesions.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan)- Helps in detecting the recurring brain tumor
- Intraoperative MRI- Used during surgery
In most of the cases, histopathological examination is the only way to diagnose the type of brain tumor. The procedure is performed by a neurosurgeon and the final diagnosis is done by the pathologist. The pathologist will determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant and grade it correctly.
Brain Tumor Treatment
Even though the treatments may vary according to whether it is primary, metastatic, benign or cancerous; the most common treatment options are surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. They can be suggested alone or in various combinations. For malignant, residual and recurrent tumors, chemotherapy and radiation are used. The best method will be chosen according to various factors. Each type of surgery and therapies has its own risks and complications.
As recommended medically, complete or nearly complete surgical removal of the tumor will give best results. It is a challenge to the neurosurgeon to remove as much tumor as possible. It should be done very carefully without doing any injury to the brain tissue. The brain tissue is very important for a patient’s neurological function. Craniotomy is the traditional method to remove the tumor. It is done by accessing the tumor by opening the skull. Another common procedure is the Stereotactic biopsy. It is a small operation done as a diagnostic procedure. During the procedure, the doctor accesses the sample tissue through a hole made in the skull. The tissue obtained will be taken for diagnosis. This procedure may sometimes be performed before craniotomy surgery.
Computerized devices such as surgical navigation systems have been introduced later during 1990s. These systems help the surgeon to locate and precisely operate the tumors. As a result, the and complications were reduced and more of the tumor could be removed. Surgical navigation systems also allowed previously inoperable tumors to be removed with minimal risks and complications. Another important technique that can be more beneficial to the patients with tumors that are large, dominant-hemisphere gliomas and affecting the language function.
Other surgical procedure may include:
- Ventriculoperitoneal shunt as adjuvant or as aid in main surgical procedure
- Radiation Therapy-The radiation therapy can kill abnormal brain cells and cancer cells and to shrink the tumors. X-rays of high energy are used for the procedure. Radiation therapy is used when the surgery becomes ineffective to treat certain kinds of tumors. Some of the common therapies include:
- Proton Beam Treatment
- Gamma knife radiosurgery
- Standard external beam radiotherapy
- Stereotactic radiosurgery