World Brain Tumour Day 2021: Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Panic
World Brain Tumour Day 2021: Most commonly seen brain tumours produce headaches and seizures, while other symptoms are based on the location of the tumour.
The term brain tumour brings a shiver down one’s spine. Insofar as it causes anxiety, confusion, and fear, the medical sciences have advanced in Neurosurgery and neuro-oncology. Therefore, it is important to stay informed about a brain tumour, and why one shouldn’t panic.
The brain has millions of neurons and circuits which make it the CPU of the human body. The different parts such as the Cerebrum, Cerebellum, and Brain Stem are responsible for different functions. They help in our motor activity, sensation, vision, social behaviour, and consciousness.
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Dr Ganesh Veerabhadraiah, Consultant – Brain & Spine – Neuroendovascular Surgery, Fortis Hospitals, Cunningham Road explains why one shouldn’t panic.
A brain tumour refers to a mass or growth of abnormal cells in one’s brain. When a tumour develops in the brain it causes 2 types of symptoms.
- Due to the pressure effect
- Due to the local involvement of nervous tissue.
Most commonly seen brain tumours produce headache and seizure, while other symptoms are based on the location of the tumour.
Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some others are cancerous (malignant). Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or tissues close to it, such as in the brain-covering membranes (meninges), cranial nerves, and pituitary gland. Metastatic brain tumors are tumors that result from cancer that starts elsewhere in your body and then spreads to the brain; for example cancer in the lung, stomach, liver, breast, prostate, and ovary which can spread to the brain are called secondaries.
Almost 68% of brain tumours are benign or nonmalignant. Commonly seen benign brain tumors are Meningioma, Pituitary tumour, and Schwannoma. In rare cases, they can be malignant, or cancerous. About 32% of brain tumours are malignant. The most common malignant brain tumours that occur in adults are Gliomas. Glioblastoma is a highly malignant brain tumour.
Reasons you should not panic
In the last two decades, neurosurgeons have continuously analyzed the success rate of brain tumour surgery. Earlier was mostly on the extent of resection and median survival rates. However, in recent years, one of the most important goals was to improve or maintain the quality of life of the patients after the surgery. To treat a brain tumour, neuro-surgeons, nurses, medical oncology team, and radiation oncologists work as a team and they regularly discuss every case assessing the potential risks and benefits and decide the most effective therapy, and find the least invasive approach for each patient.
The minimally invasive neurosurgical options continue to broaden. This has given rise to an improved quality of life without compromising the effectiveness of their treatments. For some patients, surgeries can be avoided altogether through active monitoring (regularly checking for tumor changes) or medical management.
A brain tumour is not the end of the world. As discussed above, not all brain tumours are malignant. In most, brain tumours cases after excision, an individual can lead a normal life. With early detection, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, neurosurgeons are on the edge to treat safely; and assure the prevention of further damage to the unaffected parts of the brain, resulting in a good outcome.
Science has evolved over the years; this has invariably given rise to cutting-edge technology like minimally invasive surgery. It is performed through small incisions instead of a large opening. The advantages of this surgery are smaller incisions, less pain, minimal to no scars, less blood loss, a lower rate of complications, and shorter hospital stay.
Neuronavigation is a GPRS kind of Computer Assisted Technology that helps the neurosurgeons to localize the exact location of the tumour: from the skin, scalp to deeply seated tumour, and nearby vital structures. The use of high-end advanced neuro-microscopes has made surgeons visualize the deeper structures with a good amount of light, magnification, and 3D vision.
Stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) is a non-surgical radiation therapy used to treat small tumors of the brain. It can deliver precisely targeted radiation in fewer high-dose treatments than traditional therapy, which can help preserve healthy tissue. Cyberknife and Gamma knife are types of SRS that are highly focused radiation directly targeted to the tumour. Gamma Knife radiosurgery is usually a one-time therapy completed in a single day.
Endoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that can avoid open craniotomy. In such a surgery, Pituitary tumours can be removed through the nose. The added advantage is that scars will not be visible.
The cutting-edge technology in medical sciences has always proved right that life can be sustained with evolving technology. As the future in medical sciences promises research in Nanofiber therapy, target therapy, oncolytic virus therapy, and immune therapy, we expect propitious growth in this field.
( Inputs from Dr Ganesh Veerabhadraiah, Consultant – Brain & Spine – Neuroendovascular Surgery, Fortis Hospitals, Cunningham Road)
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