BRAIN CANCER

  • May have a wide variety of symptoms such as seizures, sleepiness, confusion, and behavioral changes. Benign and cancerous tumors may result in similar symptoms.

Types

  • Primary Brain Cancers
    • Occur when brain cells transform from their normal characteristics into abnormal cells which grow into a mass, or tumor.
    • The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (medulloblastomas). The term glioma includes glioblastomas, astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas, and ependymomas.
  • Metastatic Brain Cancer
    • Made of cancerous cells from a tumor from another location in the body which spread to the brain in a process called metastasis
    • Most common type of brain tumor.

 

Symptoms

Numerous and not specific to brain tumors only. Some brain tumors do not cause any symptoms and may be found after death

Symptoms can be caused by:

  • A tumor pressing on or encroaching on other parts of the brain and keeping them from functioning normally
  • Swelling in the brain caused by the tumor or surrounding inflammation.

Symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are similar. Most common symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Clumsiness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Seizures

Non-specific manifestations include:

  • Altered mental status — changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Abnormalities in vision
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity

DIAGNOSIS

Physician may do/request:

  • History & Physical Exam
  • CT Scan
  • MRI
  • Lab Tests
    • Blood, electrolytes, liver function tests, urine tests, and a blood coagulation profile
  • Biopsy
    • Taking and testing a sample of the tumor usually by surgery

 

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS

Treatment of brain cancer is usually complex involving several consulting doctors:

  • Neurosurgeons (specialists in the brain and nervous system), oncologists, radiation oncologists (doctors who practice radiation therapy) primary health care provider
  • Team may also include:
    • a dietitian, a social worker, a physical therapist, and, possibly, other specialists.

Treatment protocols vary widely according to the location of the tumor, its size and type, your age, and any additional medical problems that you may have.

Most widely used treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of any of them.

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