Frequently Asked Questions on Brain Tumor

Brain tumour is the growth of abnormal cells in the brain. Different types of brain tumor exist; some are cancerous some are non-cancerous. How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate, as well as location of a brain tumor, determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.

Share these frequently asked questions and answers with your patients to raise awareness of Brain tumor.

1.    What is a brain tumor? A brain tumor is a type of cancer affecting the brain. The tumor can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign) in nature.

2.    What is the difference between benign and malignant tumor? •    Benign tumor- it is a type of tumor that is less aggressive and grows slowly. It has a clear border and does not spread to the surrounding tissues. •    Malignant tumor- these tumors grow rapidly and have uneven borders. They invade and affect the surrounding tissues too.

3.    What are the types of brain tumors? Brain tumors are differentiated depending on the location of cancer growth and cancer affecting different organs that spread to the brain. Your doctor will diagnose the type of brain tumor and provide the right treatment.

4.    What are the different brain tumor stages? Depending upon the severity and progress of tumor growth, brain cancer is divided into 4 stages. •    Stage I- tissues with normal looking, non-cancerous (benign) cells that is growing at a slow pace •    Stage II- malignant tissues that has less normal-looking cells and growing slowly •    Stage III- tissue is malignant with abnormal cells, growing rapidly •    Stage IV- malignant tissues with most cells being abnormal and increasing quickly

5.    What risk factors can cause brain tumor? The exact cause of brain tumor is still unknown. Certain risk factors that can develop a brain tumor include: •    History of radiation therapy- individuals who have received prior radiation therapy to their brain for treating other types of cancer are also at risk •    Genetic conditions- genetic disorders can increase the risk of brain tumors •    Exposure to chemicals- few chemicals can alter the structure of a gene that is responsible in protecting the body from specific disorders and cancers

6.    What symptoms do patients with brain tumor experience? Signs of brain tumor relies on the location and size of the tumor. •    Cerebrum (front part of brain)- seizures, drowsiness or confusions, changes in personality, visual changes, slurred speech, and paralysis or weakness of half body or face •    Brain Stem (middle part of brain)- endocrine problems, visual changes or double vision, headache, paralysis of half body or face, respiratory changes, and seizures •    Cerebellum (back part of brain)- vomiting (usually in the morning), headache, trouble in walking, no coordination of muscle movements

7.    How is brain tumor diagnosed? •    Medical history and physical examination •    Imaging tests: bone scan, angiogram, lumbar puncture, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Computed Tomography (CT), and X-ray •    Neurological assessment- to examine the reflexes, movement of eyes and mouth, coordination, and muscle strength

8.    What is the treatment for brain tumor? Patients are treated with a combination of one or more of the following: •    Surgery •    Chemotherapy •    Radiation therapy

9.    Are there any treatment side effects? Chemotherapy and radiation can destroy normal cells and can cause: •    Vomiting •    Mouth sores •    Hair loss •    Infection •    Weakness

10.    What special care should be taken during the treatment? •    Follow the doctor’s instructions regarding medications and appointments. •    Seek support- it is common to feel depressed, afraid or anxious during diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Talk to your family members or close friends for help and support. •    Get enough rest, as the radiation can make you feel weak

11.    What diet should a patient follow after chemotherapy? •    Avoid: raw and undercooked seafood, meat, eggs, unpasteurized dairy products, raw sprouts, and leftover food •    Include: grains, cereals, thick-skinned fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh and well-cooked meat or eggs, fluids, fresh fruit or vegetable juices

12.    When should one visit a doctor? Contact or visit your doctor immediately if you experience: •    Signs of infection or fever •    Treatment side-effects that affect your daily routine •    New symptoms •    Worsening of symptoms

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