Brain cancer or tumors is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. Malignant tumors can grow and spread aggressively to distant parts of the body as well. Tumors that do not spread or invade nearby tissue are called benign. Benign tumors are less harmful as compared to malignant ones, but a benign tumor can cause problems in the brain by pressing on a nearby tissue.
Brain tumors that originate in brain cells are called primary brain tumors. The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, menin-giomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (medulloblastomas). The term glioma includes glioblastomas, astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas.
Metastatic or secondary brain tumors spread to the brain from other tumors. Symptoms of a brain tumor are usually related to its location rather than its size. Symptoms develop when the tumor destroys or compresses normal brain tissue. Either the tissues around the tumor swell or the tumor interferes with the normal flow of fluid around the brain and spinal cord.
Brain Cancer Symptoms:
- Speech problems
- Imbalance or difficulty in walking
- Impaired vision or a restricted visual field
Having any of these symptoms does not mean it is cancer, but if one or more of them is noticed for more than two weeks, then a doctor must be seen and an immediate health screening is a must.
Diagnosis of Brain cancer can be done by Physical examination, MRI or CT scan, Biopsy through surgery or Stereotactic brain biopsy. Treatment of brain cancer is usually complex. The most widely used treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Many people with brain tumors undergo surgery or a stereotactic brain surgery in which the tumor is removed with the assistance of image guidance, leaving the healthy brain relatively intact. Neuroendoscopy is another minimally-invasive surgical procedure where the tumor is removed through small holes in the skull, mouth or nose, enabling neurosurgeons to access areas of the brain that cannot be reached with traditional surgery.
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are other modalities of treatment used to treat brain cancers. The treatment of brain tumours is a complex one as tumours are positioned near vital structures which, if affected during treatment can largely impact the patient post treatment. Proton Therapy, an advanced form of radiation therapy is a globally proven standard to treat brain tumours with minimal side effects among multiple other benefits. Proton Therapy is available at the Apollo Proton Cancer Centre in Chennai which is South East Asia’s first proton therapy centre.