by AK Team
Brain cancer is basically an overgrowth of some mass of cells in the brain that become cancerous over a period of time. This mass of cancerous cell can convert itself into a tumor.
There are various types of brain tumors. The non-cancerous ones are known as benign and the cancerous ones are known as malignant.
The tumors can either begin in the brain itself which is known as primary brain tumor. If the cancer or tumor begin at any other part of the body and then spread into the brain it is known as secondary or metastatic tumor.
Brain cancer is quite uncommon as compared to other types of cancers. And if detected in the early stage it can be treated very well depending on its type and location.
Types of brain cancer actually means the location where the cancer develops. Basically there are two main types cancer – primary and secondary depending on the location.
Based on the exact location some types of brain cancers are listed below :
Brain metastases :
This is basically secondary brain cancer. This is a type of cancer that spreads from its primary site to the brain.
Acoustic neuroma :
Acoustic neuroma is a benign, that is a non-cancerous tumor. It is a slow-growing tumor that develops on the main vestibular nerve that leads from the inner ear to the brain. It grows from an overproduction of Schwann cells and is also known as vestibular schwannoma.
Astrocytoma is a primary cancer basically that can occur either in the brain or in the spinal cord. In begins in small star-shaped cells that are known as astroctyes and these cells support the nerve cells.
Embryonal tumors :
Embryonal tumors are malignant or cancerous tumors that begin in the fetal or embryonic cells in the brain.
Choroid plexus carcinoma :
Choroid plexus carcinoma is a rare malignant or cancerous brain tumor that mainly takes place in children. It begins near the brain tissue that secretes the CSF that is the cerebrospinal fluid.
Craniopharyngioma is a rare non-cancerous or benign tumor that forma mainly near the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus. It is a slow-growing type of tumor that do not spread to other parts of the body or brain.
Glial cells are the cells that support and surround the nerve cells. Glioma is a type of cancer that begins in these glial cells.
Ependymoma is a type of brain tumor that begins in the cell that line the spinal cord central canal or the ventricle that is the fluid filled spaces of the brain.
Glioblastoma is a central nervous system tumor that forms form the glial tissue of the brain and the spinal cord and its cells look very different from the normal cells. It is a fast –growing type of cancer.
Oligodendrocytes are the cells that cover and protect the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Oligodendroglioma is a type rare, slow-growing type of brain cancer that begins here in the oligodendrocytes.
Pituitary tumors :
Pituitary tumor occur in the pituitary gland near the brain and can cause hormonal changes in the body.
Stages or grades of brain cancer is basically at what speed the brain cancer grows. There are four grades of brain cancer :
Grade I :
- This is just the beginning of the tissue mass and it gets converted into a non – cancerous tumor, that is a benign.
Grade II :
- The non – cancerous benign converts itself itnto a cancerous tumor or malignant.
Grade III :
- The malignant has cells that look very different from the normal brain cells.
Grade IV :
- The malignant has cells that look very abnormal and grows very quickly.
The exact cause of brain cancer in not known yet. There are some reasons that may cause cancer to develop in the brain.
- Exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation
- A family history of brain cancer
Cancer caused in any other part of the body may move to the brain and can cause brain cancer. Cancer that commonly spread brain cancer include:
- Breast cancer
- Lung cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Melanoma – a type of skin cancer
The symptoms of brain cancer entirely depend on the size and the location of the tumor. Some common brain cancer symptoms include:
- Memory lapses
- A lack of balance
- Difficulty in walking
- A lack of coordination
- Headache, that usually get worsen in the morning
- Speech problems
- Vision problems
- Personality changes
- Abnormal eye movements
- Muscle jerking
- Muscle twitching
- Unexplained passing out, or syncope
- Seizures, especially in someone who does not have a history of it
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Gradual loss of sensation
- Feeling very tired
- Hearing problems
If the doctor suspects based on your symptoms that you have a brain cancer, he may recommend you to the following diagnostic tests and procedures :
- Imaging tests
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is most commonly used in the diagnosis of brain tumor. At times computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan are also recommended.
- A neurological examination :
A neurological examination may include checking the patient’s vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength and reflexes. Difficulty in any of these may signal or provide clues about the part of brain having tumor.
- Biopsy :
Biopsy is basically when we collect and test a sample of abnormal tissue. A biopsy can be performed as part of an operation to remove the brain tumor. The biopsy sample is viewed under microscope to determine if it is cancerous or benign.
- Lumbar puncture or spinal trap :
Lumbar puncture is a procedure in which a needle is used to take a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid to look for tumors in the cells, blood or tumor markers.
The treatment option for brain cancer entirely depends on the location , type and grade of it and also on the degree at which it is affecting the brain and spinal cord. Some of the common treatment methods used for the cure of brain cancer are listed below:
- Radiation therapy
- Ancillary therapeutic agents
IS BRAIN CANCER CURABLE?
The grade I brain tumors can be cured if they are completely removed by surgery.
Grade II tumor cells grow and spread slowly than grade 3 and 4 tumor cells.
Therefore, if the brain tumor is detected at an early stage we can cure it but if it is detected in a later on stage, there are a bit low chances to cure it.