Brain tumor clinic
What is Brain Tumour?
A brain tumour occurs when there is an abnormal growth in or around the brain. These tumours can be either malignant or cancerous type or benign (not cancerous). Tumours developing in the brain are referred to as primary tumours while the ones that form in other parts of the body and spread in the brain are called secondary or metastatic tumours.
Few types of tumours grow fast; others grow slow. However, irrespective of being cancerous or not, brain tumours can affect functioning of the brain if they continue to grow larger and press the surrounding tissues, nerves or the blood vessels.
Brain tumours are mostly found in older adults, but may develop in children under the age of 14 years too.
Causes of Brain Tumour
While there are no definite causes behind the development of a brain tumour, physicians suggest that any genetic changes or defects found or due to hereditary conditions can cause the brain cells to grow uncontrolled, thus forming a tumour.
Symptoms of Brain Tumour
Some people show no symptoms when they develop a brain tumour, also referred to as central nervous system tumour, while in other cases, doctors discover tumours in the patients while treating them for other tissue disorders.
The symptoms start showing gradually as the tumour in the brain starts growing larger and continues to press the other nerves or the blood vessels around it. It must be noted that the signs or symptoms of a brain tumour can vary person to person, depending on multiple factors such as the location, size, type and the part of the brain that has been affected by the tumour. The most common symptoms include:
- Headaches (recurring or severe) and may go away with vomiting
- Noticeable changes in personality or behaviour
- Trouble in concentrating
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unable or finding difficulty to balance or in coordination
- Feeling of numbness, tingling or weakness on one side or any part of the face or body
- Problems with speech, vision or hearing
- Sleepiness in the unusual hours
- Difficulty in memorising, understanding any language, speaking, or thinking
Diagnosis of Brain Tumours
In order to confirm formation of a tumour in the brain, the doctors conduct several tests including:
- Physical examination and assessing medical history of you and your family to look for any possible or relatable signs, illnesses, check your history of past surgeries or any medical treatments
- Biopsy by making a small hole in your skull to take out a sample tissue of the tumour to study and identify details about the tumour, its type and pace of spreading
- Use imaging tests such as CT scan, MRI, to identify the locationof the tumour and find out its type – malignant or benign. The doctor may also check your lungs, breasts or colonto find out the origin of the tumour if suspected of Metastases.
- The doctors may also conduct neurological examinations to check if there are any changes in how you balance, if you are able to coordinate your reflexes, hear, see and understand well. Any change can point out the part in your brain that is affected.
Brain tumours, when classified as cancerous, they are further divided into four grades to help in diagnosis. With each grade, the tumour will indicate its pace of growth and spread, thus helping the doctors to formulate an appropriate treatment plan.
Surgery for Brain Tumours
Amongst many other treatment methods, surgery is one of the main treatment options used for brain tumours.
The idea of undergoing the procedure might sound frightening, but with the expertise of the highly skilled neurosurgeons in collaboration with doctors from other specialities, make the process safe.
Brain tumour surgery is mainly of two types:
Craniotomy: Neurosurgeons prefer this as the most common surgical treatment option to remove a brain tumour, using general anaesthesia wherein they cut a part of the bone from the skull to access an opening to operate. The imaging scans help the surgeon to locate and find the precise position of the tumour. After the tumour is removed, the surgeon secures the bone back using small metal brackets and stitching the skin over it.
Awake Craniotomy: In certain cases, the Neurosurgeon might suggest awake craniotomy if the tumour is located close to the part that controls important functions like speech, reflexes or movement. The patient might be kept awake either for one part of the surgery or throughout the surgery, using aintravenous anaesthesia. Some of the surgeries are carried out while the surgeons monitor the brain’s electrical activity, also referred to as intra operative neurosurgical monitoring. This makes the surgery safe and allows to remove more tumours is required.
During such surgeries, the patient is asked to do different tasks like talking, singing, moving their limbs, etc, to check if the functioning of the brain. After removing the tumour, the bone is fixed and the skin is closed .
Since the brain does not have any receptors to understand pain, it does not feel any. The rest of the body is kept under anaesthesia to numb the areas that may feel pain during the surgery. The surgical procedure is carried out keeping all safety measures and comfort of the patient in mind.
This is a minimally invasive or keyhole brain surgery, wherein the Neurosurgeon removes either a part of or the entire tumour found in the ventricles (fluid filled spaces)in the brain. This procedure is also used in order to remove fluid build-up from the brain (hydrocephalus).
Post- surgery, it is essential for some patients to undergo rehabilitation to ensure proper and speedy recovery. The patient may be advised to undergo rehabilitation therapies such as:
- Physical Therapy to help recover any lost muscle strength and restore motor skills
- Occupational Therapyto help in getting back to daily routine life and work
- Speech Therapytohelp patients with difficulty in speaking
- Tutoring for children to cope with memory changes after undergoing a brain surgery
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