Introduction to Brain Tumours
A brain tumour is a collection of cells that multiplies and grows in an uncontrollable way. Although anyone of any age can be affected by a brain tumour, it is much more common in older adults.
What is a Brain Tumour?
A brain tumour is a collection of cells that multiplies and grows in an uncontrollable way. Although anyone of any age can be affected by a brain tumour, it is much more common in older adults. In the UK around 9000 people are diagnosed each year with a brain tumour. They are typically given a grade from 1 – 4 depending on various factors, such as how quickly the mass is growing. There are many different types of tumour that can grow in the brain but roughly half of those diagnosed in the UK each year are cancerous (malignant), whilst the other half are non-cancerous (benign). Malignant tumours can either be primary, meaning they start in the brain, or secondary, meaning they have spread to the brain from somewhere else in the body. Malignant tumours tend to be higher grades, and are more likely to grow back following treatment.
What causes a Brain Tumour?
There is not a well known cause of brain tumours, and the reason why someone eventually develops a primary tumour is rarely known. It is thought that a number of genetic conditions, as well as previous radiotherapy to the head, can predispose an individual to a higher risk.
What are the symptoms of Brain Tumours?
The symptoms you experience will depend on the size and location of the tumour within your brain. Sometimes these symptoms will develop slowly over time, and occasionally a brain tumour has no symptoms so must be discovered by chance. Some of the more common symptoms it can cause include: Severe headaches, fits (seizures), blurred vision, speech problems, behavioural changes, mental changes (memory problems, for example), feeling sick (nausea) and vomiting and drowsiness.
How is a Brain Tumour treated?
If you are concerned you may be experiencing symptoms caused by a brain tumour make sure you contact your GP for advice. If your GP is unable to identify the cause of your symptoms and there is a risk that you may be suffering from a tumour, it is likely you will be referred to a neurologist for a brain scan.
Surgery is usually the the primary treatment for a brain tumour, with the aim being to remove as much abnormal tissue as possible. If it is not possible to remove all of the tissue, radiotherapy and chemotherapy may be necessary to help kill the abnormal cells remaining.
Whilst treatment is often successful for benign tumour, with only a small chance of the mass growing back, the outlook for a malignant tumour generally less positive. Following treatment, you will have several appointments to monitor the disease. Unfortunately, there is no definitive cure for a persistent malignant tumour and treatment will then focus on controlling the rate at which it grows in order to prolong life for as long as possible.