What is a brain tumor?
When there is a mass or growth of abnormal cells within the brain, it is known as a brain tumor. There are benign (noncancerous), and malignant (cancerous) brain tumors and both types can be very dangerous within the brain.
How do brain tumors form?
Brain tumors can either originate in the brain or begin in other parts of the body and spread to the brain. A brain tumor that originates in the brain is called a primary brain tumor, while a brain tumor that spreads to the brain is a secondary, or metastatic, brain tumor. Brain tumors can grow rapidly or slowly over time, the rate of growth varies between individuals and types of tumors. Individuals symptoms may also vary based on the location of the brain tumor dictating how it affects the nervous system and causes symptoms. Symptoms vary depending on the size, location, and how quickly or slow the tumor has grown. The study of Brain Tumors is known as Neuro-Oncology.
Typical signs of a brain tumor include but are not limited to:
- Difficulty with balance
- Headaches- New onset or headaches that because more frequent and severe
- Vision problems- Blurred vision, double vision, loss of vision
- Speech difficulties
- Behavioral changes
- Hearing problems
- Nausea or vomiting
Who is at risk for a brain tumor?
Brain tumors can be a risk for any individual as the cause of a brain tumor is typically unknown, but there are some demographics that may put someone at a higher risk.
The primary risks include:
Home and Work Exposures: Exposure to chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, rubber, vinyl chloride, or oil products may increase the chances of developing a brain tumor.
Family History: Studies show that approximately 5% of brain tumors are potentially linked to hereditary and genetic factors or conditions.
Other risks include but are not limited to: Age, gender, exposure to infections/viruses/allergens, electromagnetic fields, race and ethnicity, ionizing radiation, head injury and seizures, and n-nitroso compounds.
How does a brain tumor removal procedure work?
Treatment of a brain tumor varies based on the size, type, and location. If the tumor is in a location where it can safely be operated on or removed, an operation will be performed by an experienced neurosurgeon. When tumors are small and can be separated from surrounding brain tissue, the surgeon will remove the tumor in its entirety. In many cases, the entire tumor cannot be removed or separated from healthy brain tissue without causing further issues. In these situations, the surgeon removes as much of the tumor as possible while remaining safe. Due to the brain and nervous system being extremely sensitive, even removing a part of the tumor can reduce symptoms tremendously.
What does a brain tumor removal recovery look like?
Following a brain tumor excision or removal surgery, different types of rehabilitation are often required. As previously mentioned, the brain and nervous system are very sensitive which is why basic functions may need to be re-taught after surgery. Patients may need to participate in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and school tutoring for children.