Brain Cancer

BRAIN CANCER diagnosis

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What are Brain Tumors?

The central nervous system, in other words, the brain, and spinal cord, is the essential control center for voluntary and involuntary functions of the body. These organs, like other organs and tissues in the body, can sometimes develop tumors. Such tumors can be either benign or malignant. The term ‘benign’ does not necessarily mean that the tumor cannot be life-threatening. In fact, benign brain tumors may grow and put pressure on certain nerves or blood vessels. However, they tend to remain confined to the brain or spinal cord. They are generally well-defined masses with distinct boundaries.

Malignant tumors, on the other hand, have the tendency to grow at a faster rate than benign ones. They generally have irregular boundaries and can even spread to other locations within the central nervous system.

 

What is Brain Cancer?

BRAIN CANCER diagnosisA malignant brain tumor, or brain cancer, is a kind of a brain tumor that tends to grow relatively rapidly, has a tendency to return even after surgical removal and has the capacity to spread to other parts of the brain as well as the spinal cord. Cancer can arise spontaneously in the brain or it may be the result of cancer cells that have migrated to the brain from elsewhere in the body.

Since there are several different types of cells found in the brain, including the neurons themselves, the cells of their protective sheaths and supportive cells, there can be several different types of cancers. Depending on the nature of the malignant change, the cells affected and the location of the tumor, the outcome, and severity of cancer can vary. Some brain cancers have a better prognosis than others. In some cases, the genetic defects responsible for cancer may have been inherited and in other cases, malignant changes in cells may have been triggered by environmental or lifestyle-related factors.

 

How are Brain Tumours Graded?

Depending on the features of the tumor cells as observed during examination under a microscope, doctors assign one of four grades to a certain case of brain cancer. Grading the tumor helps to get a better sense of the prognosis and to formulate a treatment plan. The four successive grades are as follows:

  • Grade I: This is the least aggressive. Under the microscope, these tumor cells appear like healthy cells. Such tumors are benign and generally grow very slowly. The prognosis for long-term survival is good.
  • Grade II: Here, the tumor cells show some changes that indicate malignancy. Such tumors may invade healthy tissues and may also reappear after surgical removal.
  • Grade III: In this case, the tumor cells are clearly distinct from healthy cells and the tumor mass is usually a fast-growing one with a tendency to invade healthy cells. Such tumors tend to reappear as higher grade tumors after treatment.
  • Grade IV: This is the most aggressive form of tumor. Growth is rapid as the abnormal cells are actively reproducing. Such tumors may also be identified by areas of dead tissue inside them. They may also form new blood vessels in order to support further tumor growth.

The first two grades are considered the lower grades and grades III and IV are considered the higher grades. These grades can change as time goes by. For instance, a grade II tumor can transform into a grade III mass. Further, tumors can simultaneously contain cells of different grades.

 

What Causes Brain Cancer?

BRAIN CANCER mriOften, tumors arise in the brain as a result of metastasis of cancerous cells from other sites such as the skin, breasts, and lungs. Other times, malignant transformations in the cells of the brain and its associated tissues gives rise to tumor masses. The direct cause for this is a change in the genetic character of the affected cells. The reason for this is not known. Yet, medical science has been able to identify certain risk factors for brain cancer:

  • Having a family history of brain cancer, although this is uncommon.
  • Inherited diseases such as neurofibromatosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome and tuberous sclerosis.
  • Advancing age. Those over the age of 65 are up to four times more likely to develop brain cancer than younger individuals.
  • Exposure to ionizing radiation. Those who have received radiation to the head are particularly likely to develop some form of brain cancer.
  • Having cancer elsewhere in the body.

 

What are the General Symptoms?

Brain tumors do not necessarily produce noticeable symptoms. The symptoms can vary widely depending on the size of the tumor and its location. The list below enumerates some signs that may indicate a malignant brain tumor or brain cancer.

  • Headaches.
  • Abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling in certain areas such as the limbs.
  • Gradual loss of sensation in certain areas.
  • Dizziness or vertigo.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Seizures.
  • Loss of coordination and balance.
  • Difficulty in concentrating or thinking clearly.
  • Changes in memory or loss of memory.
  • Changes in speech, vision or hearing.
  • Behavioural changes.
  • Muscle weakness in affected areas of the body.
  • Paralysis.

 

What are the Different Types of Malignant Brain Tumours?

Brain cancers can be of several different types. The two main categories under which they can be grouped are:

  • Primary: Primary brain cancers are those that originate within the cells of the brain and associated tissues such as the meninges. This is much less common than the secondary type of brain tumour.
  • Secondary: These are brain cancers that develop as a result of malignant cells migrating to the brain from elsewhere in the body through a process called metastasis. Thus, secondary brain tumours are also called metastatic brain tumours. Cancer cells originating in organs such as the lungs, kidneys, colon and even the skin can travel to the brain and give rise to a secondary tumour there. Metastatic tumours are roughly ten times more common than primary brain tumours.

There are more than a hundred types of brain tumours. These are generally named according to the cells from which they arise. For instance, tumours formed of the glial cells that support neurons are called gliomas.

The World Health Organisation has recently released an updated scheme of classification for brain tumours. Under this scheme, histological as well as molecular features are taken into account. This section briefly describes a few types of cancerous brain tumors.

  • Anaplastic astrocytoma: This is a rare form of malignant brain tumor that arises in astrocytes which are a type of glial cell. Hence, it is a type of glioma. The nature of symptoms depends on the location of the tumor. These tend to grow slowly, although in some cases growth can be faster. Symptoms are usually caused by the buildup of pressure within the skull as a result of the growth of a tumor. Often, such tumors are caused by genetic disorders such as neurofibromatosis or tuberous sclerosis.
  • Medulloblastoma: This is a high-grade, fast-growing tumor that generally affects the cerebellum. It is very rare for this kind of tumor to spread beyond the brain and the spinal cord. This is the most common form of malignant brain tumor in children and can be of several possible types. It is also known as a primitive neuroectodermal tumor.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme: This type of tumor is an astrocytoma which means that it arises in a specific type of glial cells called the astrocyte. It can be located anywhere in the brain or spinal cord although the brain hemispheres are the most common location. Its cells reproduce rapidly and are fed by a network of blood vessels. Hence, this type of tumor is a highly aggressive and fast-growing one.
  • Chondrosarcoma: Here, malignancy arises in the cells forming the cartilages and similar tissues. This form of malignant brain tumor is very rare. Often, it is located in areas of the skull known as the sphenoid ridge and the clivus. This type of cancer tends to affect older adult men.

Other types of malignant brain tumors include CNS lymphomas, ependymomas, pituitary carcinomas, germ cell tumors and anaplastic meningiomas, to name a few.

 

What are the Complications?

Since the brain is enclosed within the rigid skull, there is no room within for large tumor masses. As a result, growing tumors tend to exert pressure on the brain and give rise to various complications, some of which are mentioned below:

  • A large brain tumor can obstruct the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid and this can result in accumulation of the fluid in certain spots (hydrocephalus).
  • It is also possible for the brain to push through a space in the skull (a cerebral hernia).
  • Hemorrhage or stroke which can result in loss of sensory or motor function and unconsciousness.
  • Increase in intracranial pressure can lead to severe complications such as coma and death.

 

How Can I Get A Diagnosis?

Brain tumors are generally diagnosed only when they have reached a stage where they begin to produce symptoms. However, asymptomatic ones may be detected incidentally when surveying the area in connection with other problems. The following procedures can help in making the diagnosis:

  • Physical examination and medical history.
  • Blood tests.
  • Tests for a sensory function such as audiometry and visual field acuity tests.
  • Lumbar puncture or spinal tap to test the cerebrospinal fluid for signs of infection or inflammation.
  • Cerebral angiogram.
  • A computerised tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
  • Electroencephalography (EEG).
  • Evoked potentials test in order to assess nerve function.
  • Biopsy of the tumor sample is usually required in order to determine conclusively whether or not the growth is malignant.

 

Treatment and prevention

BRAIN CANCER surgeryTreatment – The treatment of brain cancer is usually complex. Most treatment plans involve getting multiple consulting doctors.

  • Surgery – The main purpose of surgery is to get visual confirmation of the abnormality seen during testing is indeed a tumor and to remove the tumor. If it is not possible to remove the tumor, the surgeon will remove a part of the tumor to test it for the type of tumor that it is.
  • Chemotherapy – A single drug or a combination of drugs may be given. The drugs are given orally or via an IV tube. Some medications are given through the shunt put in place to reduce excess fluid.
  • Radiation therapy – High energy rays are used to kill the tumor cells, thereby stopping them from growing and multiplying. This method may be used for those who cannot go under surgery. It is also used after surgery to remove any remaining cancer cells.

In most cases, more than one of these treatment techniques are used.

Preventions

  • Be aware of the risk factors that can cause cancer.
  • The chances of cancer increase with age.
  • Know your family’s medical history. Only 5-10% of all cancer cells are hereditary.
  • Limit your exposure to radiation.
  • Understand the kinds of radiation that do cancer. For instance, cell phones are proven not cause cancer.
  • Change your eating habits. Make sure that you eat nutritious and immunity boosting foods.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim at walking 10,000 steps every day, this amounts for 5 miles (8 kilometers)

 

 

Facts

  • There are almost 700,000 people in the United Sates who have been diagnosed with brain cancer. Almost, 69,000 will be diagnosed this year.
  • In the United States, more than 28,000 children (0-19 years-old) are estimated to be living with brain cancer.

Facts

  • The most common type of brain cancer is secondary cancer – cancer from another part of the body has entered the brain.
  • The average survival rate for brain cancer – glioblastoma – is 10-12 months.

Facts

  • According to the American Cancer Society, only 6% of the people diagnosed with glioblastoma ages 45-54, and 4% of the ages of 55-64% survive for 5 years, post the diagnosis.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Exercise often.
  • Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables.
  • Go for a routine physical exam.
  • Join a support group to help you with the healing process.
Don'ts
  • Engage in smoking as nicotine is carcinogenic.
  • Engage in unprotected sex, since HIV doubles the chances of developing brain cancer.
  • Expose yourself to intense sunlight.

 

 

 

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Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Experts reveal the safest ways to perform an enema at home The idea of pushing some up your rectal area might make you queasy but an enema could actually…
Vagus nerve: 7 health benefits of stimulating the “gut-brain” connection As a matter of fact, there are two vagus nerves namely the left and the right but is…
apolipoprotein a1 test
Apolipoprotein -A1 (APO-A1) Test Apolipoprotein A-I (Apo-A1) constitutes 70% of protein content in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and helps in lipid metabolism.
leptospira Igm test
Leptospira-IgM Test A Leptospira-IgM test is a blood test which is carried out to detect anti-Leptospira IgM antibody. Leptospirosis is…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
improve digestion weight loss
Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
shakeology woman
Meal replacement or protein drink? Learn all about Shakeology and its claims Shakeology from Beachbody claims to be the most suitable shake that can aid in weight loss, regulate blood…
colposcopy
Colposcopy Colposcopy is a simple, quick and non- invasive diagnostic tool to look closely inside the vulva, vagina, and…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
fructosamine test
Fructosamine Test A fructosamine test measures blood sugar glucose content. Fructosamine level can indicate blood sugar level in past 2-3…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
dandelion weight loss
Caralluma Fimbriata: How to eat this cactus to lose weight Caralluma fimbriata is a miracle cactus that can be safely consumed by most for losing weight and boosting…
Coffee Enema: Turn your favorite morning beverage into a powerful colon cleanser The wonders of coffee are not just limited to waking you up every morning. You can now use…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
chloride test
Chloride Test A chloride test of the blood checks the level of chloride in body, an important factor governing the…
complement c4 test
Anemia Profile Anemia Profile test (Basic) is a blood screening test that measures the levels of important components of the…
shiitake mushrooms healthy
What are Shiitake Mushrooms and why should you eat them? Shiitake Mushrooms are well known for their smoky and robust taste. However, did you know they are replete…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
Love tea, hate tannins? Rooibos tea is just what you need The market is brimming with a multitude of herbal teas. But what makes rooibos tea (or red bush)…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
myelogram
Myelography Myelography is an important diagnostic tool that is used to investigate and identify abnormalities in the spine and…
sodium blood test
Blood Sodium Test A blood sodium test measures the amount of sodium (an important electrolyte) in your body. It is also…
Coconut sugar: What is it and is it healthier than table sugar? In the long list of things that the wonderful coconut gives us, coconut sugar is another remarkable addition.…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
GGt test
GGT – Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase Test GGT or gammaglutamyl transferase test is a liver function test that is used to detect the extent of…
C-Reactive Protein Test A CRP or c-reactive protein blood test is an important diagnostic tool used to determine the risk of…
ANTIPHOSPHOLIPIDANTIBODY(APL)_IgG
Antiphospholipid (APL) antibody-IgG The Antiphospholipid Antibody testing is a blood test used to determine an autoimmune disorder called Antiphospholipid syndrome linked…
Strep throat pain
Anti-Streptolysin-O Test The ASO or Anti-Streptolysin-O is a blood test designed to check for the presence of streptococcus bacterial infection…
vdrl test syphilis
VDRL Test The VDRL test is a blood test that is used to diagnose sexually transmitted or venereal diseases, primarily…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…