Brain tumour is the condition of abnormal growth of cells in or around the brain. These tumours, called primary brain tumours, can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and can grow at various rates. About one-third of brain tumours are cancerous. However, even benign brain tumours can cause impairment of brain function if these tumours grow large enough to press against the surrounding tissues, nerves, and blood vessels.
Apart from tumours growing in the brain originally, tumours growing in another part of the body can also spread to the brain. These are called secondary or metastatic brain tumours.
Diagnosis of Brain Tumour
Brain tumour diagnosis can be a complex process requiring the assistance of several specialists and oncologists. Sometimes, it may be detected during imaging tests performed for other health conditions.
Since a headache is often the first and most prominent symptom of brain cancer, a patient may visit the doctor to seek treatment for their headache. The doctor may conduct physical tests and inquire about other symptoms, family history, and the patient’s personal medical history. A neurological examination may also be recommended to assess vision, hearing, reflexes, and the mental status of the patient.
For further confirmation, the doctor may recommend specific imaging tests for a brain scan. An MRI scan is the standard method for obtaining an image of the brain’s structure. If structural anomalies are identified during the scan, a brain biopsy of the tumour may be performed to determine the type of brain tumour and to determine the cancer’s stage.
Treatment of Brain Tumour
Brain tumour treatment depends on several factors such as the location and size of the tumour, the number of tumours present as well as the age and overall health condition of the patient. Some of the main brain cancer treatment options include:
Brain Tumour Surgery
Surgery is the most common cancer treatment modality. Brain cancer surgery or tumour surgery can completely remove non-cancerous brain tumours, which usually don’t grow back. In most cases, surgery may be a sufficient form of treatment. There are various surgical approaches available to remove brain tumours, depending on the location and size of the tumours.
- Craniotomy: This involves removing a part of the skull to access parts of the brain.
- Biopsy: This procedure involves removing a part of the brain tumour to be examined under a microscope to determine the presence, type, and stage of cancer.
- Neuroendoscopy: This procedure allows surgeons to access the brain tumour through different parts of the body, such as the nose, which allows minimal incision and scarring.
- MRI-guided laser ablation and laser interstitial thermal therapy (LITT): This procedure uses intraoperative imaging to locate a tumour and destroy it using laser or heat.
- Awake brain tumour surgery: This procedure of brain cancer surgery requires patients to be sedated but kept awake to ensure that normal brain function is not affected.
Chemotherapy treatment for brain cancer treatment involves using chemotherapy drugs to destroy brain cancer cells. Chemotherapy is often employed in conjunction with surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Radiation therapy employs X-rays or other forms of light energy to eliminate cancerous cells in malignant brain tumours or slow down their growth. There are different types of radiation therapy used to treat brain tumours:
- External beam radiation therapy: This is the most common type of radiation therapy used for brain tumour treatment. It can be directed at the tumour and the surrounding areas of the brain. In some cases, the entire brain may need irradiation when the brain tumour is metastatic, including tumours too small to be detected on a scan.
- Stereotactic radiosurgery: This radiation therapy procedure uses more precise and smaller X-rays to target brain tumours while sparing healthy surrounding tissues. It is often employed to treat brain regions that are challenging to reach.
- Proton therapy: This form of radiation therapy utilises proton particles for radiation delivery. It may be a safer treatment option, as it exposes surrounding healthy cells and tissues to less radiation.
Targeted therapy uses medical drugs that selectively attack specific cells to stop the growth and spread of cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, targeted therapy does not attack healthy cells, so this form of treatment has milder and fewer side effects.
Rehabilitation & Recovery after Brain Tumour Treatment
Follow-up care and rehabilitation after brain tumour treatment may involve regular check-ups and brain scans by a neurosurgeon or neurologist. The doctor may check for the recurrence of the tumour and possible issues caused by the tumours. Rehabilitation and physical therapy may be required to regain some of the affected skills and treatment after brain cancer treatment. Physical therapists and occupational therapists work in collaboration with the treating doctors to determine the best course of rehabilitation for each individual patient.
In many cases, brain tumours can be treated successfully. However, some people go on to live an active and fulfilling life with asymptomatic brain tumours. Sometimes, brain tumours may return, which then requires continued treatment to prevent the cancerous cells from growing and spreading.
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FAQs on Brain Tumour Treatment in India
Q. What is a brain tumour?
A mass of aberrant brain cells is referred to as a brain tumour. The brain is protected by the highly strong skull. Any expansion within such a constrained area might lead to complications.
Q. What is the difference between Primary brain tumours and benign brain tumours?
- Primary Brain Tumour – An abnormal growth that originates in the brain and normally does not spread to other regions of the body is referred to as a primary brain tumour. Primary brain tumours can be either benign or cancerous.
- Benign Brain Tumour – A benign brain tumour develops gradually, is well-defined, and seldom spreads. Benign tumours can be fatal if they are located in a critical region, even though their cells are not cancerous.
Q. What is the difference between benign and malignant brain tumours?
- Malignant Brain Tumour – A malignant brain tumour develops rapidly, has irregular borders, and spreads to surrounding brain regions. Malignant brain tumours are frequently referred to as “brain cancer,” although they do not meet the criteria of the disease because they do not spread to other organs outside the brain and spine.
- Metastatic Brain Tumours – Brain tumours that have migrated to the brain from other parts of the body are known as metastatic (secondary) brain tumours. They develop as a result of the bloodstream transmission of cancer cells. Lung and breast cancers are the two most common cancers to spread to the brain.