Brain cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in children. It is caused by the presence of tumours in the brain. Tumour is a group of cells that grow abnormally. According to World Health Organization, there are around 120 types of brain tumours. Fortunately, not all tumours are carcinogenic.
There are two types of brain tumours based on their originality:
Primary brain tumours are born in the brain tissues and in general, do not spread to any other tissue or organ.
Secondary brain tumours are born in other areas of the body and spread to brain tissues. These tumours commonly spread through lung, colon, breast and skin cancers. They are more common than Primary brain tumours.
Brain tumours may or may not cause cancer.
Benign brain tumours are surrounded by a thin tissue and do not cause cancer. This tumour grows slowly and can be removed easily. However, depending on the location, the tumour can be life-threatening if it is pressed against certain parts of brain.
Malignant brain tumours are not surrounded by thin tissue of cells and cause cancer. These tumours grow in various speeds based on the aggressiveness of the tumour. It spreads to other healthy brain tissues but rarely to other parts of the body.
Causes of brain cancer:
Specific causes for brain cancer not clear. But hereditary and exposure to intense X-rays may be included in the risk factors. There is no age bar for this cancer and can occur anytime.
Grades/Stages of Brain tumours:
Brain tumours are graded to understand the severity of the tumours by how normal or abnormal the tumour cells look. This gives an idea of the type, size and growth speed of the tumour. The grading system helps in planning the treatment options.
Grade 1: The tumour grows very slowly and the cells look like any other healthy brain cell. Tumours in this grade can be removed and recurrence is not likely.
Grade 2: The tumour grows slowly but the cells may be slightly abnormal. There is a chance of the tumour spreading to other brain tissues. There is also a risk of recurrence and may be more life-threatening than Grade 1 tumour.
Grade 3: The tumour grows rapidly and the cells are abnormal. This tumour tends to spread to other tissues and is life-threatening. There is also a high risk of recurrence.
Grade 4: The tumour grows and spreads rapidly. The tumour cells are abnormal. This tumour is highly life-threatening.
The classification and grading of brain tumours can help in understanding the risks and the treatment options for the removal. However, tumours can change. Benign tumours may turn malignant or grade 1 tumour may recur as grade 4 tumour. So brain tumours have to be treated immediately regardless of it being cancerous or not.
Symptoms of Brain cancer:
Symptoms for brain cancer vary depending on the type, grade and location of the tumour. Some of the common symptoms that might occur are:
- Vision impairment
- Behavioural changes
These symptoms are only in general and can change for each type of brain cancer. The symptoms might vary or the severity of the symptoms may vary depending on the tumour.
Treatment options for Brain cancer:
The treatment for brain cancer depends on various factors like the type of brain cancer, type of the tumour, location and grade of the tumour etc. Sometimes, the combined treatments are also provided.
Some of the common treatment options are:
Surgery: Brain tumour is surgically removed along with a little healthy tissue surrounding the tumour. Surgery is generally performed to remove Grade 1 tumours. It can also be used to ease the symptoms and reduce the size of the tumour.
Radiation therapy: The tumour cells are exposed to high x-rays which destroy the cells. This method is used when surgery is not possible or the tumour is widely spread.
Chemotherapy: The tumour cells are killed by medication which is given through mouth or IV.
In the next few posts we will be covering various types of brain cancers and their treatment options so keep reading.