Brain Tumor – Identifying Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatments
A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells that grows out of control in the brain. Since the skull is a rigid structure, any growth inside this restricted space can lead to problems. Tumors in the brain can either be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign), but both can cause increased pressure inside your skull as they grow. Brain tumors are categorized as primary or secondary conditions. A primary tumor is one that originates in the brain but is usually benign. A secondary tumor originates in another organ such as the breast or lung and spreads to the brain. If left untreated, tumors can result in brain damage and become life-threatening.
Common Risk Factors for a Brain Tumor
In most cases, doctors are unable to determine the exact cause of a brain tumor. However, there are a few known risk factors, such as:
- Frequent and prolonged exposure to a type of radiation called ionizing radiation may result in an increased risk of a brain tumor. One of the most common examples of this radiation includes radiation therapy which is used to treat cancer.
- A family history of brain tumors or predisposition to certain genetic conditions that increase the risk of developing a brain tumor.
- Individuals between the age of 65 and 79 are more likely to be diagnosed with a brain tumor.
The Symptoms of a Brain Tumor
Symptoms of a brain tumor depend on its size and location and can either be general or specific. General symptoms are caused by the pressure a tumor puts on the brain or spinal cord, whereas specific symptoms occur when part of the brain does not work well because of the tumor. As a tumor grows, it puts pressure on your brain tissue, resulting in noticeable symptoms which may include the following:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in personality, memory or the ability of the person to perform basic activities
- Pressure or headache
- Loss of balance and difficulty with fine motor skills
- Difficulty swallowing and speaking due to muscle weakness
- Altered perception of touch
- Changes in vision, personality and judgement
Treatment Options for a Brain Tumor
Treatment for a brain tumor depends on a number of factors including the type, size and location of the tumor in addition to your general health. Early treatment can minimize the risk of complications that may occur as the tumor grows. Read on for a closer look at the treatment options for a brain tumor:
- Surgery is usually the first option, especially if the tumor can be completely removed. If part of the tumor remains, radiation and chemotherapy may be used to kill any remaining cancer cells.
- If the location of the tumor makes it difficult to surgically remove a tumor, radiation and chemotherapy may be recommended.
- Gamma knife therapy, a highly focused radiation, may be used to treat tumors in difficult to reach areas.
If you are worried about any symptoms you may be experiencing, schedule a consultation with Dr. Lewis at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic. As a leading specialist in the field of neuroscience, he is trained in a variety of treatment techniques in addition to the development of innovative instrumentation to deliver patients with precise diagnoses and surgical solutions. He pioneered endoscopic brain surgery and was also the first surgeon in Mississippi to remove a vascular malformation from the brain stem and thalamus. He has taught courses on skull base surgery and the surgical treatment of complex brain tumors since 1995. He also performs gamma knife radio surgery for deep seated and metastatic brain tumors.
Contact us today to learn more about brain tumors or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.