World Brain Tumour Day: Causes, symptoms and treatment

World Brain Tumour Day is observed on 8 June with the aim to raise awareness and educate people about brain tumours, and also to pay tribute to brain tumour patients and their families

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Tuesday, June 07, 2022, 03:14 PM IST
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Representative Image | Cleveland Clinic

Every year 8th of June is celebrated as World Brain Tumor Day. This initiative was initially taken by German Brain Tumor Association and is now celebrated worldwide to raise awareness and educate people about the brain tumor.

This is a non-profit organisation which raises public awareness and educates people about brain tumour. Malignant brain tumour is very common in Germany as more than 8,000 people suffer from these diseases only in Germany.

More than 500 new cases are diagnosed with brain tumour everyday worldwide. Number of patients with tumours that cause brain metastases is even higher than that. This is the most common type of cancer among children.

The incidence and prevalence of brain tumour is growing in India. According to a study on childhood cancer, brain tumour is commonest in girls and even in both sexes in adults although there is some variation amongst states.

The Government of India has introduced National Cancer Control Programme with the objectives of prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis and treatment including palliative care in end stage.

There are lots of myths and misconception about brain tumor among the general population and we take this opportunity to discuss some basic facts.

Causes and Incidence

Brain tumors may originate from neural elements within the brain itself, or they may represent spread of distant cancers from any other organ of the body like lungs, breast, kidney or prostate cancer. Primary brain tumor includes Gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, and acoustic neuromas.

Brain tumour can occur at any age. The exact cause of brain tumour is not clear.

The symptoms of brain tumour depend on their size, type, and location.

The most common type of primary brain tumour among adults are astrocytoma, meningioma, and oligodendroglioma.

The most common type of primary brain tumours in children are medulloblastoma, grade I or II astrocytoma, (or glioma) ependymoma, and brain stem glioma.

Family history and high dose X-rays are risk factors for brain tumour.

Brain tumours are diagnosed by the doctor based on the results of a medical history and physical examination and various specialized tests of the brain and nervous system.

Options for brain tumour treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy or a combination of treatments.

The incidence of central nervous system (CNS) tumors in India ranges from 5 to 10 per 100,000 populations with an increasing trend and accounts for 2% of malignancies.

Symptoms

Manifestations of brain tumor may be nonspecific and include the following: a Headache, Altered mental status, Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Gait Disturbance, Focal seizures, visual changes, Speech deficits, Focal sensory abnormalities.

New onset seizures in adults or a headache associated with weakness or numbness of the limbs indicate more towards brain tumor.

Diagnosis

As most of the brain tumor initially present with very nonspecific complaints, early diagnosis by a neurosurgeon or neuro physician helps plan further management in initial stages of the disease.

Diagnosis is aided by imaging modalities like CT scan or MRI. Treatment of brain tumor includes maximal safe surgical resection. In some cases of malignant tumors, radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy are administered.

Treatment and Prognosis

Doctors may suggest following treatments according to their type, grade, and position of tumour and general health of patient.

  • Surgery

  • Radiotherapy

  • Chemotherapy

  • Steroids

  • Anti-seizure medication

  • Ventricular peritoneal shunt

Diagnosis of brain tumor does not always mean a very poor outcome. A lot of CNS tumors are benign and can be cured completely and for life by complete surgical removal. In many cases of malignant tumors also, long-term survival is possible with accurate surgery and other management.

Outcome and survival rate depends mostly on the age of the patient, type of tumour, whether it is benign or malignant, and the extent of the surgical excision and molecular characteristics of the tumor.

Recent studies on molecular markers have opened newer treatment modalities in brain and spine tumors. Now brain tumors are treated based on the molecular staging of the tumor.

Brain tumor surgery is becoming more and safer with the judicious use of stereotaxy, neural monitoring and brain mapping. Stereotactic radiosurgery sometimes can be used in selected cases to manage tumors without any surgery.

Rehabilitation and support from friends and family are required for the optimum outcome of the patient in most cases.

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