Excessive or abnormal tissue growth in the brain is a serious problem, whether it is benign or malignant.
Namely, skull bones prevent the growth of any tumor outward and the soft brain tissue is exposed to dangerous pressure. Therefore, the difference between benign and malignant tumors in brain is not as significant as that in other parts of the body.
As the tumor increases in size, the pressure in the skull is increased, too. Consequences of that are common headaches, which are often the the moist painful when the patient is lying. Headaches are generally accompanied by nausea and vomiting. However, sometimes vomiting – which is symptomatic for the brain tumor – occurs suddenly, without warning in the form of nausea. Increased pressure can also affect the nerves at the back of the eye, and may cause blurred or double vision. Other possible symptoms depend on location of the growth in the brain, and include weakness on one side of the body, instability, loss of smell, loss of memory, and even a drastic change of personality. These symptoms may be very mild at first, and then gradually deteriorate over a few days or weeks. In some cases, the presence of brain tumors can cause seizures. In rare cases of tumor on the baby’s brain, the tumor usually occurs in the back of the brain, causing headaches and, after some time, staggering.
Brain tumors are much less common than breast, lung or intestine tumors. However, spreading cancer from these parts of the body to the brain is relatively often. Secondary tumors (tumors that have metastasized from some other part of the body) are more common at an older age when cancer usually occurs more frequently. Secondary tumors spread and cause symptoms as well as primary tumors.
If not treated, brain tumors will permanently damage the brain tissue and, in most cases, cause death. However, if benign growth is discovered and treated in time, prospects for complete recovery are often excellent.
What to do?
If you notice any of the characteristic symptoms (especially the headache that gets worse when you are sick and is accompanied by vomiting), contact a doctor who will probably refer you to a neurologist for diagnostic tests. With X-rays (including X-rays of the chest, as secondary brain tumors are often a result of malignant tumors in the lungs), he may also refer to computerized axial tomography, as well as angiography and possibly brain tissue filming with radioisotopes.
Benign tumor is often removed surgically, and the procedure can be completely successful. Although the tumor may affect an essential part of the brain, sometimes a part of the growth is removed to reduce pressure and relieve the symptoms. After the surgical removal of the entire tumor or part of it, radiation therapy is sometimes used to destroy any remaining tumor cells or prevent the return of the symptoms.
A surgical procedure is usually less successful in malignant brain tumors. But, in such cases, there are ways to alleviate symptoms and problems. A swellinga, and therefore pressure around the growth, can be reduced with corticosteroid drugs. In the case of epileptic seizures, anticonvulsants are prescribed. Severe headaches are suppressed by various analgesics.