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Brain Tumour

  • What is a Brain Tumour?

    A brain tumour refers to abnormal tissue growth in the brain. It occurs when the brain cells divide uncontrollably and produce extra tissue. A brain tumour can begin from the brain cells (primary) or it can spread to the brain from cancer cells in other parts of the body, such as the breast or lung (secondary). Brain tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). 

    There are different types of primary brain tumours:

    • Glioma develops from the glial cells (cells that support and protect nerves)
    • Meningioma develops in the meninges (brain membranes)
    • Medulloblastoma develops in the cerebellum (located at the back of the brain) and is common in children
  • The exact cause of primary brain tumours are not yet fully documented. Most brain tumours develop from uncontrolled and abnormal growth of brain cells. Some factors can increase the risk of primary brain tumours, including:

    • Exposure to high doses of ionising radiation (used to treat another cancer)
    • Gender (males are at higher risk)
    • Increasing age (over 65)
    • Race (Caucasians are at higher risk)

    In addition, some hereditary conditions increase your risk of developing a brain tumour, such as neurofibromatosis, which affects the development and growth of nerve cells. Risks also increase if a person has a weak immune system (eg. due to AIDS). So far, there has been no documented evidence to prove that the use of mobile phones and microwave ovens cause brain tumours.

  • Brain tumours are characterised by various symptoms, which may include any of the following:

    • Change in mental state
    • Loss of balance
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Loss of memory
    • Nausea and dizziness
    • Problems in vision and speech
    • Regular headaches (may worsen in the morning)
    • Seizures
    • Weakness in one part of the body
  • Different treatment options are available to manage brain tumours. A doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest an appropriate treatment, which could include:

    • Chemotherapy (given as an oral or an intravenous drug) is used to destroy cancerous brain cells
    • Radiosurgery, which is a non-invasive and painless procedure, uses precision beams that directly target a small area of the tumour to shrink it or prevent it from growing
    • Radiotherapy uses high energy rays to destroy the tumour. There may be side effects of hair loss and tiredness during this treatment
    • Surgery to remove a part or all of the tumour, depending on its size and location
    • Targeted drug therapy consists of drugs that target specific tumour abnormalities
    • Allergic reaction to drugs used in the treatment
    • Depression
    • Headaches
    • Hearing loss
    • Increased risk of blood clot formation
    • Personality changes
    • Premature menopause and infertility (potential side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy)
    • Seizures
    • Vision problems if the brain tumour damages the nerves that connect to the visual cortex (brain area responsible for processing visual information)
    • Weakness in one part of the body if the brain tumour affects brain area responsible for movement of arms and legs
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