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Brain Tumour Awareness - Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

  • October 31, 2022
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Created to raise awareness on brain tumours, the International brain tumour awareness week is observed from the 29th of October to the 5th of November this year. Raising awareness on this fatal illness not only educates the community to take precautions and work towards preventive measures, but it also helps to highlight the necessity of research required to find and establish effective treatments to work towards a cure that can reduce the rising number of brain tumour cases every year.

Before we move further, let’s understand the basic anatomy and functioning of the brain.

The brain is divided into two halves from front to back, down the middle, called the cerebral hemispheres. Each hemisphere is divided into 4 lobes, namely, the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. Brain tumours can be located in the lobes and are called supratentorial tumours and the ones located in the cerebellum or brainstem are called infratentorial tumours.

Regardless of their location, these tumours can cause headaches, seizures, sleep problems, and issues with multitasking.

Symptoms

Let’s learn about some common symptoms that people with brain tumour can experience.

  1. Body Pain: It is an unpleasant feeling in the body that can cause stress and discomfort. Pain can affect any joint or muscle and should not be ignored. You should consult your health provider immediately if you experience a sharp electrical sensation that travels down your neck, arm, back, or leg
  2. Cognitive Symptoms: Cognitive functions are related to the mental process of learning, understanding, and communicating. People with brain tumour may feel exhausted, overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or depressed. Some common symptoms include problem remembering and difficulty in speaking and concentrating.
  3. Difficulty in Walking: One may find it difficult to stand or move and also lose balance. Other symptoms can be numbness in one leg or both, weakness, and fatigue.
  4. Gastrointestinal Symptoms: The symptoms may arise in areas from your mouth to the rectum. One may feel nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, and more.
  5. Consistent Fatigue: Fatigue is a feeling of constant tiredness and lack of energy that can affect your day-to-day activities.
  6. Frequent Headaches: The symptom is a constant feeling of pain and pressure in the head that does not seem to go and comes back.
  7. Mood and Sleep Disturbances: Sleep is a way for your body to reset and recover to let you feel energised to power through your day. Interrupted sleep and affect your health and life. It can also lead to mood disturbance, feeling of distress, depression, and anxiety.
  8. Seizures: Seizures are sudden and uncontrolled body movements or changes in behaviour caused due to an abnormal activity in the brain.

Causes

There are two types of brain tumours, primary and secondary. Primary brain tumour is less common and originates in the brain itself or in the tissues close to it. Secondary brain tumour is when the cancer starts elsewhere in the body and spreads to the brain.

For people with primary brain tumours, the cause is not yet clear. But, there are certain risk factors that doctors have identified that may increase your chances of a brain tumour.

 

  1. Exposure to Radiation: Individuals exposed to a type of radiation called the ionizing radiation are at a higher risk of brain tumour. Examples include a radiation therapy used for treating cancer or exposure to radiation from atomic bombs.
  2. Family history: It may occur if you have a family history of genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain tumours.

Diagnosis

There are certain tests and procedures that may be used to examine the brain and spinal cord tumours

  1. Physical exam: Your body will be checked for signs such as lumps or anything unusual.
  2. Neurological exam: This exam helps check one's mental status, coordination, ability to walk normally, reflexes, and muscle senses.
  3. Visual field exam: Loss of vision can be a sign of a tumour and hence an exam can be conducted to check the person's field of vision, which includes both central and peripheral vision.
  4. Tumour Marker Test: It is done to diagnose a germ cell tumour by collecting samples of blood, urine, or tissue.
  5. Gene Testing: A lab test conducted to analyze the cells and tissues to look for changes in the genes or chromosomes.
  6. CT Scan: This test helps your health professional get a series of detailed pictures of areas inside your body
  7. MRI with gadolinium: It is an efficient procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to create detailed pictures of the brain and spinal cord. A substance called gadolinium is injected into a vein and it collects around the cancer cells and they show up brighter in the picture.
  8. SPECT and PET Scan: These procedures help the doctor find malignant tumour cells in the brain.

Medical Disclaimer

Any medical information referred to in or through our blog is provided as information only and is not intended:

  • as medical diagnosis or treatment
  • to replace consultation with a qualified medical practitioner

We highly recommend you consult the medical professionals empanelled with us for specific advice about your situation.

Work towards Better Brain Health

By controlling your lifestyle, you can work towards ensuring better brain health. You can step in the right direction by eating healthy, avoiding carcinogenic conditions in the environment, giving your body the ample amount of exercise it requires, and finally reducing stress.

International brain tumour awareness week is observed every year as it creates awareness among the general population across various countries. It also helps to reduce the stigma associated with brain tumours. Promoting brain health will definitely prevent many of these diseases, and spreading the word among your loved ones will help them understand that the brain is the most complex organ in the human body and working towards preventive factors will help them steer clear of the illnesses associated with brain health.