Brain Tumor

March 05, 2015
Brain tumors can occur in people of all ages, from the very young to very old. Although the exact causes of brain tumors are unknown, genetic factors and inherited disorders are known to play a role in some types of brain tumors. However, it does not mean that all cases of brain tumors come from inherited disorders. Other risk factors include tumors that have spread to the brain from cancers elsewhere in the body.
Generally, there are 2 types of brain tumors:
  • Tumors beginning in the brain. These can be noncancerous or cancerous. However, noncancerous tumors are the more commonly diagnosed type of tumor.
  • Tumors beginning in other parts of the body and spreading to the brain.
The symptoms of brain tumors can vary widely. In most cases, medical attention should be sought when the following symptoms are observed: 
  • Headache is a common symptom. Generally, 60-70% of patients with brain tumors develop headaches with the following symptoms:   
    • The headache continues for a long period of time and may even last for weeks or months. Often the symptoms may get worse over time.
    • The headache is more intense at night and affects your sleep.
  • Weakness in a part of the body is a symptom that develops gradually and gets worse. It may start with gradual weakness of the arm that becomes worse over time. In some cases, symptoms may include paralysis of facial muscles or hearing loss. 
  • Seizures, particularly in one localized region of the body, such as an arm, leg or face. Brain tumors may cause seizures in some elderly people who have never had one before.   
In addition to a review of a patient’s complete medical history and a physical examination, diagnostic procedures used to detect brain tumors may include computerized tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to produce detailed images of the brain. The scan enables the doctor to evaluate the tumor, determine the types of tumor and develop the most appropriate treatment plan. 
In most cases, there are 3 treatment options for brain tumors: surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The type of treatment will be determined by the doctor based on several factors, such as the symptoms, the location and size of the tumor. If the tumor is small with no noticeable symptoms and the tumor location does not affect body functions, the doctors will monitor the tumor to see whether it is growing and requires treatment. When the tumor becomes large and is accompanied by symptoms such as severe headache or weakness, surgery must be performed to remove the tumor. If the tumor is found to be cancerous, radiation therapy or chemotherapy must be administered as well.   
If you suffer from any of the symptoms of a brain tumor, such as chronic headache, weakness in one part of the body or seizures, please consult your doctor for an early diagnosis and immediate treatment.
By Dr. Veerasak Theerapancharoen, a neurological surgeon, Neuroscience Center, Bumrungrad Hospital.
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