A Brain Tumor is an abnormal growth of cells within the brain, which can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). It is defined as any intracranial tumor created by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division, normally either in the brain itself (neurons, glial cells (astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells, myelin-producing Schwann cells), lymphatic tissue, blood vessels), in the cranial nerves, in the brain envelopes (meninges), skull, pituitary and pineal gland, or spread from cancers primarily located in other organs (metastatic tumors).
Primary (true) brain tumors are commonly located in the posterior cranial fossa in children and in the anterior two-thirds of the cerebral hemispheres in adults, although they can affect any part of the brain. The symptoms of Brain Tumor such as Headaches, Vomiting, Unconsciousness or Coma, Intracranial Pressure, Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), Herniation of Brain, Cerebellar tonsils etc..
Types of brain tumors
Brain Tumor Treatments
Many meningiomas, with the exception of some tumors located at the skull base, can be successfully removed surgically. In more difficult cases, stereotactic radiosurgery, such as Gamma knife, Cyberknife or Novalis Tx radiosurgery, remains a viable option.
Most pituitary adenomas can be removed surgically, often using a minimally invasive approach through the nasal cavity and skull base (trans-nasal, trans-sphenoidal approach). Large pituitary adenomas require a craniotomy (opening of the skull) for their removal. Radiotherapy, including stereotactic approaches, is reserved for the inoperable cases.
Although there is no generally accepted therapeutic management for primary brain tumors, a surgical attempt at tumor removal or at least cytoreduction (that is, removal of as much tumor as possible, in order to reduce the number of tumor cells available for proliferation) is considered in most cases. However, due to the infiltrative nature of these lesions, tumor recurrence, even following an apparently complete surgical removal, is not uncommon. Several current research studies aim to improve the surgical removal of brain tumors by labeling tumor cells with a chemical (5-aminolevulinic acid) that causes them to fluoresce. Postoperative radiotherapy and chemotherapy are integral parts of the therapeutic standard for malignant tumors. Radiotherapy may also be administered in cases of "low-grade" gliomas, when a significant tumor burden reduction could not be achieved surgically.
Survival rates in primary brain tumors depend on the type of tumor, age, functional status of the patient, the extent of surgical tumor removal, to mention just a few factors.
UCLA Neuro-Oncology publishes real-time survival data for patients with this diagnosis. They are the only institution in the United States that shows how brain tumor patients are performing on current therapies. They also show a listing of chemotherapy agents used to treat high grade glioma tumors.
Patients with benign gliomas may survive for many years, while survival in most cases of glioblastoma multiforme is limited to a few months after diagnosis if treatment is ignored.
The main treatment option for single metastatic tumors is surgical removal, followed by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. Multiple metastatic tumors are generally treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), such as Gamma Knife, Cyberknife or Novalis Tx, radiosurgery, remains a viable option. However, the prognosis in such cases is determined by the primary tumor, and it is generally poor.
Radiotherapy is the most common treatment for secondary cancer brain tumors. The amount of radiotherapy depends on the size of the area of the brain affected by cancer. Conventional external beam whole brain radiotherapy treatment (WBRT) or 'whole brain irradiation' may be suggested if there is a risk that other secondary tumors will develop in the future. Stereotactic radiotherapy is usually recommended in cases of under three small secondary brain tumors.
In 2008 a study published by the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center indicated that cancer patients who receive stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and whole brain radiation therapy (WBRT) for the treatment of metastatic brain tumors have more than twice the risk of developing learning and memory problems than those treated with SRS alone.
A shunt operation is used not as a cure but to relieve the symptoms. The hydrocephalus caused by the blocking drainage of the cerebrospinal fluid can be removed with this operation.