A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function. It is estimated that there are over 650,000 people living with primary brain and central nervous system tumors in the United States. There will be an estimated 23,380 new cases diagnosed in 2014.
Brain tumors can be categorized into several types:
- Benign – non-cancerous tumors that grow slowly and do not invade surrounding tissue
- Malignant – cancerous tumors that grow rapidly and invade surrounding tissue
- Primary – tumors that originate within the brain
- Metastatic – secondary tumors that develop as a result of cancer elsewhere in the body
There are over 120 types of brain tumors, with meningiomas, glioblastomas, and pituitary tumors being the most common. Tumors in the brain and spinal cord do not always develop uniformly and may produce symptoms that are unique to each patient. Symptoms can vary greatly according to the tumor location and type. Some patients have had no symptoms at the time of their diagnosis.
Following are possible symptoms of both benign and malignant brain tumors:
- Headache • Change in Speech, Vision, or Hearing
- Nausea and Vomiting • Problems with Balance and Movement
- Muscle Jerking/Twitching • Numbness/Tingling in Arms and Legs
- Changes in Mood, Personality or Ability to Concentrate
Diagnosing a brain tumor can be a complex process. Be certain to inform your physician of all symptoms you may be experiencing for the most accurate and complete diagnosis. The diagnosis process may involve a number of different specialists and several procedures, which can include:
- Neurological Examination • MRI
- CT Scan • Angiogram
- Spinal Tap • Biopsy
Treatment depends on several factors, including the size, type, and location of the tumor. Additionally, the patient’s overall health and age will play a role in determining which treatment option will be the most effective.
After treating a brain tumor, a patient will often need rehabilitation due to the nature of his cancer and the effects it had on his or her body. The following therapies may be helpful in a patient’s recovery
- Speech Therapy • Occupational Therapy
- Physical Therapy • Physical Medicine
After treatment, patients will need to maintain follow-up care with their physicians to monitor the recovery progress. This post-treatment care is extremely important to ensure any recurring tumors are detected.
Brain tumors can be extremely life threatening, as they grow rapidly and affect one of the body’s most important organs. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, or suspect you may have a brain tumor, contact your physician immediately for an evaluation.
National Brain Tumor Society