World Brain Tumor Day: Like many other cancer survivors, sheds light on the fact that knowing the signs and symptoms of cancer can go a long way in the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer. However, it is not always easy to know these signs and some signs such as fever and a headache could not always indicate cancer.
But whatever is the case, it is always a good idea to not ignore even a small symptom as it could be a sign of a deadly disease like cancer. And a brain tumor is no new to this. In this article, we will try to shed light on brain tumor and its causes, symptoms and treatment.
8th June is observed as the World Brain Tumor Day every year. The aim is to spread awareness about the condition and help the patients to deal with the condition in a better and effective way.
What Is Brain Tumor?
A brain tumor is a type of central nervous system (CNS) tumor, which constitutes 2% approximately of all malignancies. Although relatively rare, it is associated with morbidity and mortality of young as well as middle-aged individuals. The incidence of these tumors in India ranges from 5 – 10 per 100,000 populations. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) latest classification of CNS tumors, brain cancers are described as high-grade (III and IV) tumors of the CNS.
The World Health Organization has classified/categorized CNS tumors into four grades. These are:
Grade 1: In this, tumors grow slowly and are generally nonmalignant in nature. Moreover, patients with this grade of tumor are likely to survive for a long period of time.
Grade 2: This is when the cancerous cells grow at a slow pace, but recur as high-grade tumors. These can be nonmalignant or malignant in nature.
Grade 3: In this, the tumor grows aggressive and tends to recur as a high-grade tumor over time.
Grade 4: This is when the cancerous cells reproduce rapidly and spread quickly. It can be aggressive in nature with a high risk of spreading to nearby areas and other organs.
What Causes Or Puts You At Risk Of Brain Tumor?
Although the exact cause of a brain tumor is not known, there are several factors which can put you at risk of cancer. These include:
- Your age (risk increases with age)
- Clinical history (if you had a history of brain cancer or any other form of malignant cancer)
- Family history (if anyone in your family has/had cancer)
- Genetic mutations (that occurs at birth or during the lifetime)
- Radiations (due to X-rays, radiation therapy or CT-scan)
Not all brain tumors are cancerous in nature. This means that some are completely benign or harmless masses of cancerous cells that mainly targets the brain’s structural tissue. Whereas some could be malignant or cancerous in nature, which means that the cancerous cells can spread to the other organs of the body. Brain cancers are broadly classified into two major types namely:
Primary tumors: These are the ones that affect the tissues in the brain. Basically, these types of cancers originate in the brain and grow there.
Secondary tumors: These types of tumors affect a certain part of the body, such as the liver, lung, breast, kidney or stomach and spread to the brain. This is the reason, secondary tumors are also known as metastatic tumors. These are more common in India as compared to primary tumors.
What Are The Symptoms Of Brain Tumor?
There are no tell-a-tale signs of a brain tumor, which is the reason cancer goes undetected for a long time. However, there are certain signs which might indicate a brain tumor and require you to seek urgent medical help. The common symptoms of a brain tumor are:
- A headache (which is frequent, severe during the morning or becomes more severe with time)
- Nausea and vomiting, especially in the morning
- Difficulty in hearing or hearing loss
- Changes in vision (which includes double vision, blurry vision or vision loss)
- Difficulty in speaking or slurred speech
- Weakness in the arms and legs or muscles
- Postural imbalance
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then it is advised to not ignore the symptoms but consult a doctor. This is because ignoring these symptoms or not, diagnosing cancer in the early stages can make it difficult to treat and worsen the condition. For adequate diagnosis of the disorder, you can go to a neurologist or neurosurgeon and gain knowledge about the therapy alternatives available. Stay updated, stay fit!