Brain Cancer Symptoms
To begin with, not all brain tumors cause symptoms. Some such as tumors of the pituitary gland are often not discovered unless a CT scan or MRI is done for another reason. Also, brain cancer symptoms are numerous and not specific to brain tumors. This means they can be caused by many other illnesses. Thus, the only way to know for sure what is causing the symptoms is to undergo a diagnostic test.
Furthermore, these symptoms can be caused by:
- A tumor pressing on other parts of the brain and preventing them from functioning normally.
- Swelling in the brain caused by surrounding inflammation or the tumor.
Again, the symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are similar. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Difficulty walking
In addition, some other non-specific signs and symptoms include the following:
- Altered mental status which includes changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness (Related: Foods That Make Your Brain Razor Sharp)
- Difficulty with speech
- Abnormalities in vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Gradual changes in intellectual capacity or emotional responses
In a lot of people, the onset of these symptoms is very slow and might be missed by both the person with the brain tumor and the family. However, these symptoms appear more quickly on an occasional basis.
In some cases, the person acts like he or she is having a stroke.
When Should You Seek Medical Care?
Get emergency medical help immediately if you notice any of the following as they are part of brain cancer symptoms:
- Unexplained blurring of vision or Double Vision especially on only one side
- New seizures
- Lethargy or increased sleepiness
- New pattern or type of headaches
- Unexplained, persistent vomiting
Headaches are considered to be a common symptom of brain cancer. However, they may not occur until late in the progression of the disease. If any significant change in your headache pattern happens, your health care provider might advise that you go to a hospital.
Also, if you have a known brain tumor, new symptoms or relatively sudden or quick worsening of symptoms require a trip to the nearest hospital emergency department.
Be on the lookout for any of the following new symptoms:
- Visual changes or other sensory problems
- Difficulty with speech or in expressing yourself
- Changes in behavior or personality
- Clumsiness or difficulty walking
- Vomiting or Nausea especially in middle-aged or older people
- Sudden onset of fever, especially after chemotherapy.
- Changes in mental status, like excessive sleepiness, memory problems, or inability to concentrate
Brain Cancer Types
If you suspect any brain cancer symptoms, do well to visit your doctor as soon as you can to know the type you have.
Firstly, when you are diagnosed with brain cancer, try to learn as much as you can about it. This helps you decide on the best treatment for you.
In this part of the article, we will talk on the basics of the types of brain cancer and how to treat them.
Where Do Brain Cancers Start and Spread?
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of cells in your brain. Generally, there are two groups of brain tumors. They are:
- Primary brain tumors begin in the brain tissue and tend to usually stay there.
- Secondary brain tumors are usually more common than primary brain tumors. They start somewhere else in the body and then move to the brain. Breast, lung, skin, kidney, and colon cancers are among the most common cancers that spread to the brain.
Furthermore, some brain tumors contain cancer cells while others don’t.
Benign Brain Tumors
This kind of brain tumor doesn’t have cancer cells. They grow slowly, can most times be removed and rarely spread to the brain tissue around them. However, they can cause problems if they press on certain areas of the brain.
Also, depending on where they are in the brain, they can be life-threatening.
Malignant Brain Tumors
This kind of brain tumor has cancer cells. The rates of growth are different, but cells can invade healthy brain tissue nearby. Malignant tumors rarely spread past the brain or spinal cord.
Grades of Brain Tumors
How normal or abnormal the cells look determines the grade of the tumor. Doctors use this measurement to help plan treatment for patients. Also, the grading gives you an idea of how fast the tumor might grow and spread.
In Grade 1, the cells look nearly normal and grow slowly. Also, long-term survival is a possibility.
As for Grade 2, the cells look slightly abnormal and grow slowly. Also, the tumor might spread to nearby tissue. It can reoccur later, probably at a more life-threatening grade.
In Grade 3, cells look abnormal and are actively growing into nearby brain tissue. Furthermore, these tumors tend to reoccur.
Lastly, in Grade 4, the cells look most abnormal and grow and spread quickly.
Additionally, some tumors change. On rare occasions, some benign tumors can turn malignant, and a lower-grade tumor might recur at a higher grade.
Types of Brain Cancer in Adults
The most common types of brain cancer in adults are:
Astrocytomas usually begin in the cerebrum which is the largest part of the brain. Also, they can be any grade and often cause seizures or changes in behavior.
Meningiomas are the most common primary brain tumors adults face. They are most likely to occur in your 70s or 80s and arise in the meninges, the lining of the brain.
Furthermore, they can be grades 1, 2, or 3. In addition, they are often benign and grow gradually.
Oligodendrogliomas are another type of brain tumor in adults. They arise in cells that make the covering that protects nerves and is usually grades 1, 2, or 3.
Additionally, they usually grow slowly and do not spread to nearby tissue.
How Is Brain Cancer Treated?
If you suspect any brain cancer symptoms, do well to visit your doctor as soon as you can. Your treatment will depend on the type and grade of cancer, where it’s located, its size, and your age and health.
This is usually the first treatment. It might be good enough for grade 1 tumors. Also, it is possible that all cancer can be removed. However, even if it isn’t, the surgery can reduce the size and ease the symptoms.
#2. Radiation Therapy
This is used after surgery to kill any tumor cells that are still in the area. Furthermore, if surgery isn’t an option, you might have only radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is used sometimes to kill brain cancer cells. It is given by IV, mouth, or, less often, in wafers which a surgeon puts in the brain.
#4. Targeted Therapy
This can be used to treat certain types of brain tumors. These drugs attack targeted parts of cancer cells and help prevent tumors from growing and spreading.
In addition, It is very possible for your doctor to recommend combined therapies.
If you have brain cancer or are suspecting brain cancer symptoms, it’s very important to follow your treatment plan. Work with your doctor, and try as much as you can to go to your regularly scheduled appointments.
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