25 February 2024

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Brain Tumour

World Brain Tumour Day 2023: Morning headaches can be concerning, especially if they cause discomfort

Brain tumour is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal tissue in the brain; however, not all brain tumours are malignant or cancerous. Brain tumours that are cancerous grow faster than non-cancerous ones. Depending on where the tumour is located, tumours may or may not cause symptoms. If the tumour develops in less active areas of the brain, symptoms may not appear until the tumour has grown to a great size. Tumours can develop in or around brain tissue, or they can migrate to the brain from other regions of the body, a condition known as metastatic brain tumour. Every year on June 8, World Brain Tumour Day is marked to raise awareness and educate people about tumours.

Because the symptoms of a brain tumour are not very precise, they can be confused with those of other conditions. People, for example, may ignore headaches caused by a tumour and continue to take pain relievers. The tumour does not cause these symptoms, but it may press against particular nerves in the brain, which may cause them. People with brain tumours may experience vision difficulties such as double or blurred vision. Another symptom that should not be ignored is nausea or vomiting.

Tumours create symptoms because they press against nearby important structures as they enlarge since the brain regulates the bulk of bodily activities. “Symptoms of tumours may include headache and vomiting (due to increased pressure inside the cranial cavity), loss or blurring of vision (compression anywhere in the visual pathway), hearing loss (compression of surrounding auditory nerve), weakness of limbs (compression of surrounding motor pathway), difficulty in speech (compression of speech areas in brain), difficulty swallowing (compression of lower cranial nerves), and so on,” says Dr Nitish Aggarwal, Consultant – Neuro Surgery.

World Brain Tumour Day 2023

TELLTALE SIGNS OF BRAIN TUMOUR THAT PEOPLE IGNORE

“The obvious symptoms of a tumour require expert attention because they are often disguised by common ailments or overlooked as minor inconveniences.” “It is critical to emphasise the significance of recognising these subtle yet significant indicators,” says Dr. Vipul Gupta, Director-Neurointervention, Stroke, and Neurovascular Intervention at Artemis Hospital Gurugram, as he describes warning signals of brain cancer that people should not ignore.

1. Persistent headaches

Headaches that continue, worsen, or occur with new patterns should never be ignored. While headaches are common, any unusual increase in intensity or combination with other symptoms necessitates rapid medical attention.

2. Vision problems

Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision, or sudden visual field loss, may also indicate the presence of a brain tumour. Ignoring such visual anomalies might have major ramifications for one’s general health and enjoyment of life.

3. Nausea and vomiting

Prolonged nausea, vomiting, or unexplained dizziness should also be avoided. These symptoms may be caused by increased pressure in the brain produced by a tumour.

Brain Tumour

4. Unexplained seizures

Seizures that are unexplained, especially in people who have no history of epilepsy, necessitate a thorough study. Seizures can be an early warning indication of a brain tumour and should be treated as soon as possible.

BEHAVIOURAL CHANGES IN BRAIN TUMOUR

According to Dr. Vivek Agrawal of the Department of Neurosurgery at Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on its size and location.

Dr. Agarwal discusses several common behaviour and sensory alterations that indicate a brain tumour:

1. Headache or pressure in the head that is worse in the morning

2. Nausea or vomiting

3. Eye problems, such as blurry vision, seeing double or losing sight on the sides of your vision

4. Losing feeling or movement in an arm or a leg

5. Trouble with balance

6. Speech problems

7. Feeling very tired

8. Confusion in everyday matters

9. Memory problems

10. Having trouble following simple commands

11. Personality or behaviour changes

12. Seizures

13. Hearing problems

14. Dizziness

15. Feeling very hungry and gaining weight

CAN BRAIN TUMOUR ALSO AFFECT REST OF THE BODY?

“A tumour is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal brain tissue.” Brain tumours are classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Tumours (even the most aggressive forms) seldom metastasis (migrate) outside of the brain. As a result, Tumours do not impact the rest of the body,” explains Dr. Nitish Aggarwal.

Also Read: World No-Tobacco Day 2023: How smoking harms your skin, hair, and eye health

DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF BRAIN TUMOURS

Patients who experience chronic or progressive symptoms should consult with a neurologist or a neurosurgeon so that a timely diagnosis can be obtained using CT or MRI scans.

“Timely diagnosis of brain tumours is also important because the longer the symptoms last, the longer it takes the brain to recover function after treatment, and in some cases the deficits are permanent.” Not all brain tumours necessitate surgery. Small, benign tumours with minimal or no symptoms can be readily observed with routine outpatient visits and MRI scans in patients. Such individuals are also strong candidates for upfront stereotactic radiosurgery (outpatient focused radiation to the tumour). Patients with malignant or benign tumours that pressure adjacent structures require surgery. 

Methods for treating tumours have rapidly evolved. “With the advancement of technology (such as intra-operative neuronavigation, advanced microscopes, and instruments), this surgery has become very safe, minimally invasive, and has good outcomes,” Dr. Aggarwal explains.