Brain tumor and symptoms of brain tumor

By | July 7, 2015

There are many types of cancer, many of them and their subtypes are discussed in our previous posts. In this post we will be sharing some information about another type of cancer which is brain cancer and is often called as brain tumors. Mainly Brain tumors are of two basic kinds which are benign and malignant tumors. There are 130 sub types of brain tumor, which we will list after a while. Here we will also discuss brain cancer symptoms and brain tumor symptoms.

Brain tumor

What is brain tumor?

Brain tumors are groups of abnormal cells that form lumps or growths in the brain. Different types of the tumors grow and they behave differently. It depends upon whether they are non cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Pre-cancerous conditions have potential to develop into the cancer. Benign tumors are noncancerous.

How brain tumor are formed:

Brain tumors are formed due to abnormal cell division which develops in cancerous cells which are aggregated in the form of mass of cancerous cells and result in the formation of brain tumor in the brain.

Who treats brain tumor?

A doctor who is specialized in brain and brain disorders and diseases treats the brain tumor or brain cancer. This doctor is known as neurosurgeon.


Types of brain tumor:

There are almost 130 known types of brain tumors. This division or classification is based on the types of cell this brain tumor is developed from.


Causes of brain tumor:

Exact cause of development of brain tumor or brain cancer is not identified yet, but there are certain risk factors that have been identified.


Symptoms of brain tumor:

Following are the symptoms of brain cancer. If these symptoms of brain tumor are noticed in you, you must immediately consult to your doctor.

  • Abnormal pulse or abnormal breathing rates also occur.
  • Deep, dull headaches that recur and persist without relief for long period of time.
  • Difficulty in walking or in speaking.
  • Eyesight problems like double vision.
  • Changes in hearing or in speech.
  • Changes invision.
  • Balance problems.
  • Numbness or tingling in the legs or in arms.
  • Problems with memory.
  • Personality changes.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Weakness in one part of the body.



Risk factors of brain tumor:

Listed below are the risk factors for brain tumor or brain cancer.

  • Exposure to ionizing radiations.
  • Exposure to chemicals like aromatic hydrocarbons vinyl chlorides.
  • Genetically inherited diseases like tuberous sclerosis.


Prevention from brain tumor:

Prevention of brain tumor lies in the avoidance or reduction to the exposure of risk factors. To prevent development of brain tumor avoid exposure to radiations and chemicals.

Diagnosis of brain tumor:

When certain symptoms of brain tumors are observed, it should readily be reported to the doctor.

Before the diagnoses of a brain tumor, your doctor starts it by asking several questions about your symptoms and he takes a personal and family health history. After doing so he or she performs a physical examination, including a neurological exam. During physical examination, your doctor looks at your eyes, mouth and skin. If there is reason to suspect a brain tumor, the doctor will request one or more of the following tests so that he could find an evidence for existence of brain tumor:

CT Scan:

  • He performs your imaging studies like as a central CT scan (computerized tomography )or CAT scan  (computer axial tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to see detailed images of the brain so that he may examine it in detail once he looks at the picture of inner parts of brain.


 It is also known as magnetic resonance angiography. It involves the use of X rays of blood vessels or dye in the brain to look for signs in a brain tumor or abnormal vessels.


In biopsy doctor determines whether the tumor that has been developed is cancerous or it is not. In this biopsy, samples of tissues are taken from the body so that they can be examined more closely. A doctor recommends a biopsy when initial test suggests that an area of tissue in the body is not normal. That tissue sample is removed from the brain either during surgery to remove the tumor or with the needle that is inserted through a small hole which is drilled into the skull before treatment gets started. Sample is then sent to a lab for testing. Results of tests reveal that tumors are cancerous or not.


Treatment of brain tumor:

People who are suffering from brain tumors have different treatment options that could be undergone. These options are:

  • Surgery.
  • Radiation therapy.
  • Chemotherapy.

Most of the  people that are suffering from brain tumor get a combination of treatments. The choice of their treatment for brain tumor depends on the following factors:

  • The type and grade of brain tumor.
  • Location of tumor and Size of tumor.
  • Age and health

In some cases doctor also wants to know whether tumor has developed or spread to cerebrospinal fluid.

Your doctor will describe you your treatment choices, expected results and the side effects which are possible during the treatment. Your cancer therapy can damage healthy cells and the tissues, which results in the form of side effects and that are very common. Before getting started with treatment, ask your health care team about the possible side effects and how can treatment may change your normal life activities.

Following are the specialists who treat brain tumors:

Following persons are included in your care team:

Questions to ask before treatment

These are the questions that you should ask before the treatment:

Q:What type of  tumor do I have?

Q: Is it benign or malignant?

Q: What is the grade of the tumor?

Q:What are my treatment choices? Which do you recommend for me? And why

Q:What are the benefits of each kind of treatment?

Q: What should I do to prepare for treatment?

Q: Will I need to stay inside hospital? If it is so, than for how long I have to stay?

Q: What are the risks and side effects that are possible out of each treatment? How can these side effects be managed?

Q:What is the treatment likely to cost? Will my insurance cover it?

Q:How the treatment will affect my normal activities? What are the chances that I have to learn how to walk, how to speak, hoe to read, or how to write after the treatment?

Q: Would a research study (clinical trial) be appropriate for me?

Q:Can you recommend other doctors who could give me a second opinion about my treatment options?

Q:How often should I have checkups?


For most of the types of tumors, treatment is surgery. Before surgery gets started, you might be given general anesthesia, and your scalp will be shaved. You would probably not need your entire head to be shaved. Surgery to open the skull is known as craniotomy. Your surgeon makes an incision in the scalp and uses a special type of a saw to remove the piece of bone from you skull. You will or will not be awake when your surgeon removes part of or all of the brain tumor. Your surgeon removes as much tumor as he could possibly remove. You will be asked to move a leg and count. Moreover you will be asked to say alphabet, or even tell a story.  Ability to follow these steps will help the surgeon to protect important parts of your brain. After the removal of tumor,  surgeon then covers the opening in the skull with the piece of bone or by a piece of metal or fabric. Then your surgeon closes the incision in the scalp.

Sometimes surgery is not possible. If tumor is in the brain stem or in certain other areas, the surgeon will not be able to remove the tumor without the normal brain tissues being harm. People who can not have surgery done for them may receive radiation therapy or other treatment.

After the surgery you might become uncomfortable for some days. But medicine can usually control your being uncomfortable in pain. Before getting started with surgery, you should discuss the plan for your pain relief with the health care team. After the surgery has been done, your team can adjust plan if you need more relief. You can also feel tiredness or weakness. Different people take different times to get heal after the surgery is done.The brain may swell or fluid may build up within your skull. Your health care team will monitor you for signs of swelling or fluid buildup. You will receive steroids to help in relieving swelling. A second surgery might be needed to drain the fluid. Your surgeon may place a long, thin tube in a ventricle of the brain. For some of the people, the tube is placed before performing surgery on the brain tumor.  Tube is threaded under the skin to other part of the body, commonly the abdomen. Extra fluid can be carried from the brain and is drained into the abdomen. Most often the fluid is drained into the heart instead.

Infection is another problem that is associated after surgery If it is so, your health care team will give you antibiotics.

Brain surgery can harm normal tissue. Damage to brain can be a serious problem. It can result in problems with thinking, seeing, or speaking. It may also cause personality changes or seizures. Many of these problems reduce or disappear with time. However sometimes damage to the brain is permanent. You in such case need physical therapy, speech therapy, or even occupational therapy.

You should ask to your doctor these questions about surgery:

Q:Do you suggest surgery for me?

Q:How will I feel after the operation?

Q:What will you do for me if I have pain?

Q:How long will I be in the hospital?

Q:Will I have any long-term effects? Will my hair grow back? Are there any side effects from using metal or fabric to replace the bone in the skull?

Q:When can I start to my normal activities?

Q:What is my chance of a full recovery?

Radiation Therapy

This therapy kills brain tumor cells with high-energy such as

After the radiation therapy your doctor follows with surgery. These radiation kills tumor cells that can remain in that area. Most of the times, people who can not have surgery have radiation therapy.

Doctors use two types of radiation therapies to treat your brain tumors:

  • External radiation therapy.
  • Internal radiation therapy.

External radiation therapy:

In external radiation therapy, a large machine outside the body sends beams of radiations to the head. As cancer cells may invade normal tissue around the tumor. The radiations may be aimed at the tumor and nearby brain tissue, or even at the entire brain. Some of the people need radiations which are aimed at the spinal cord too. Schedule of treatment depends on your age, and the type and also on size of tumor. Fractionated external beam therapy is the most commonly used method for radiation therapy for persons suffering from brain tumor. The total dose of radiation over some weeks helps to protect healthy tissue in area of the tumor. The treatment is usually five days a week for certain weeks. A visit lasts less than an hour. Each treatment takes only a few minutes.

Internal radiation therapy :

It is also known as implant radiation therapy and brachytherapy. It is not commonly used for treating brain tumors. It is still under study. The radiation comes from a material which is radioactive and usually contained in very small implants called seeds. These seeds are placed inside the brain. They give off radiation for months. They do not have to be removed when the radiation is gone.

Some people have a few side effects after treatment and some of them do not even have these side effects. People may have nausea for several hours after external radiation therapy but it happens less often. The health care team may suggest ways so that they help you to cope with this problem. This type of therapy can also cause you to become very tired and weak by each radiation treatment. Doctors may suggest their patients to stay active. However we can not deny the importance of taking rest which is also often suggested by doctor.

This external radiation therapy can commonly causes loss of hair from the part of the head that was being treated. The Hair usually grows again back within a few months. This therapy also make the skin on the scalp and ears to become red, dry, and tender. Your health care team may suggest ways in order to relieve these problems. In some cases, radiation therapy can cause brain tissue to swell. You may sometimes even get a headache or feel pressure. Your health care team monitors you for signs of this problem. This team can provide medicine in order to reduce the discomfort. These radiation sometimes can kills healthy brain tissue.

Side effects of internal radiation therapy:

The side effects of radiation therapy are listed below:

  • Harm to pituitary glands.
  • Harm to other parts of brain.
  • In children, learning problems can occur.
  • In children, it effects their growth and development process.
  • Increased risk of secondary tumors.

You should ask to your doctor these questions about radiation therapy:

Q: Why do I need this treatment?

Q:  When will the treatments begin? When will they end?

Q: How will I feel during therapy? Are there side effects?

Q: What can I do to take care of myself during therapy?

Q: How will we know if the radiation is working?

Q :Will I be able to continue my normal activities during treatment?


Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancerous cells. It is sometimes used to treat brain tumors. Drugs are given in the following ways:

  • Via mouth or vein.
  • Via wafers put in the brain.

Following are the questions that you can ask about chemotherapy from your questions:

Q: Why do I need this treatment?

Q: What will it do?

Q: Will treatment have side effects? What can I do about them?

Q: When will this treatment start? When will it end?

Q: How will this treatment affect my normal activities?


Survival rate of brain tumor:

Following is the 5 year survival rate of brain tumor or brain cancer patient:

Type of tumor 5 year survival rate  
Type of brain tumor Age Age
Type of brain tumor 20 t0 44 45 to 54
Low grade astrocytoma 65 percent 43 percent
Anaplastic astrocytoma 49 percent 29 percent

Statistics of brain tumor:

3 out of 5 people who are victims of brain tumor or brain cancer are male. It also commonly occurs in adults. It can even also occur at any of the age.

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