A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in the brain. With 120 recognized types, brain tumors can be either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Either way, each tumor affects the body differently and can cause severe brain, nervous system, and overall bodily damage. However, the exact effects and growth rate varies according to tumor type and location. Consult a neurologist for a proper diagnosis.
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How a Tumor Forms?
Cells in the body continuously age, die, and are replaced when they outlive their use. However, certain abnormalities in the body cause some cells to display accelerated growth without dying. These abnormal cells join with one another to form masses or tumors.
While benign tumors elsewhere in the body are generally no cause for concern, brain tumors regardless of type can be life-threatening.
This is because any additional structure cannot be accommodated in the already narrow and rigid skull, resulting in increased brain pressure that can have a negative impact on normal body function.
Symptoms are generally more noticeable when the tumor grows large enough to put pressure on the brain:
- Recurrent headaches that gradually become more frequent, are worse in the morning, occur during, and or worsen when coughing, sneezing, or exercising.
- Blurred, double, or loss of peripheral (side) vision
- Gradual numbness or tingling on one side
- Balance, speech, and hearing difficulties
- Drooping eyelids and/or unequal pupils
- Gradual loss of sensation on one side
- Bladder and/or bowel control issues
- Personality or behavioral changes
- Confusion and coherence issues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained seizures
- Nausea or vomiting
- Hand tremors
Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors:
Tumors over the pituitary gland located at the brain’s base and responsible for controlling the hormone-producing endocrine gland have additional symptoms:
- Nipple discharge and lack of menstruation in females
- Breast tissue development in males
- Hand and feet enlargement
- Heat/cold sensitivity
- Excess body hair
These tumors originate in the brain or within nearby nerves and glands and are less common in adults than secondary tumors. Primary tumors can either be benign and static, or malignant and spread to other brain parts. However, while malignant primary tumors are often called ‘brain cancers’, they do not fit the definition of a cancer, i.e. they do not spread past the brain and spinal cord. Some common primary tumors include:
- Gliomas originate in the brain or spinal cord and develop from glial cells responsible for supporting and nourishing the central nervous system, breaking down dead nerve cells, and cleaning cellular waste.
- Meningiomas form in the meninges (a thin tissue layer covering the brain and spinal cord) and are generally benign.
- Schwannomas aka Acoustic Neuromas are benign tumors that develop in Schwann cells responsible for producing the brain’s protective covering (myelin sheath). Cancerous schwannomas are rare but highly threatening.
- Pituitary Adenomas are benign tumors developing in the pituitary gland with direct effects on hormonal control, and body-wide functions as a result.
- Medulloblastomas begin in the lower back area of the brain and spread through the spinal cord via spinal fluid. They are the most common malignant tumors in children.
- Craniopharyngiomas are rare malignant tumors that begin near the pituitary gland and slowly grow to affect nearby brain structures; resulting in vision changes along with hormonal dysfunction, particularly premature puberty in children.
The true definition of cancer, these tumors originate in other parts of the body and travel, or metastasize, towards the brain. While other area-specific symptoms are usually identified first, a secondary brain tumor can sometimes be the first sign of a cancer elsewhere in the body. They are more common in adults, particularly those with a previously treated cancer. Secondary brain tumors commonly spread from the:
The risk of developing a brain tumor may increase in the following cases:
- Continuous exposure to ionizing radiation, such as during chemotherapy for cancer treatment and in areas affected by atomic bombs
- A family history of brain tumors or of genetic conditions that increase the likelihood of one. However, inherited brain tumors account for only 5-10% of worldwide cases.
- Regular exposure to certain chemicals in the workplace, like pesticides, industrial solvents, oil products, rubber, and vinyl chloride, among others.
- Previous cancer, particularly in adults with leukemia (blood cancer) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and children.
- Having HIV/AIDS and other immune system-weakening conditions.
- Not having contracted chicken pox during childhood.
- Children between 3-12 and adults between 40-70 and older.
Brain tumors are hard to detect physically, as they cannot be felt under the skin’s surface like most tumors. So consult your doctor immediately if you detect any of the above stated symptoms.
You can also book an appointment with a top Neurologist in Multan, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your neural concerns.