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Everything You Need To Know About Brain Tumours

Dr. Ravi Kshirsagar

MD (USA) PGDDE (UK) Consultant Physician and Diabetologist.

5 min read

A tumour in general, is a collection of abnormal cells which can be found in any part of the body. Brain tumours are located inside the skull. The skull encloses the brain, which is very rigid. Any abnormal growth inside this restricted space can cause problems. Brain tumours can be cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). When benign or malignant tumours grow, it increases the pressure inside UR skull. This additional pressure can cause brain damage and can be life-threatening.

Brain tumours are categorized as primary or secondary. A primary brain tumour originates in UR brain and can be benign. Metastatic brain tumour, also known as a secondary brain tumour occurs when the cancer cells spread to the brain from a different organ in the body.

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Types Of Brain Tumours

Primary brain tumours originate in UR brain. They can develop from UR:

  • Brain cells
  • Membranes(meninges) surrounding UR brain
  • Nerve cells
  • Glands

Primary tumours can either be benign or cancerous. Gliomas and meningiomas are common types of brain tumours in adults.

Gliomas are tumours that develop from glial cells. These cells normally:

  • Provide nutrition to UR central nervous system
  • Support the structure of the central nervous system
  • Break down dead neurons
  • Clean cellular waste

Glioma tumours can develop from different types of glial cells.

Other Primary Brain Tumours
  • Pituitary tumours are usually benign
  • Pineal gland tumours can be benign or malignant
  • Ependymomas are generally benign
  • Craniopharyngiomas occur mostly in children and could be benign. But, these can change clinical symptoms in vision or during premature puberty
  • Primary central nervous system lymphomas are malignant
  • Primary germ cell tumours can be benign or malignant
  • Meningiomas originate in the meninges
  • Schwannomas arise in cells that provide the protective cover of UR nerves (myelin sheath) called Schwann cells
Risk Factors For Brain Tumours
Family history

About 5 to 10 per cent of all cancers are genetically inherited, or hereditary. It’s rare for a brain tumour to be inherited genetically. Consult a doctor immediately if several people in UR family have been diagnosed with a brain tumour. If so, UR doctor may recommend a genetic counsellor in this case.


With age, the risk towards most types of brain tumours can also increase.


Brain tumours, in general, are most commonly found in Caucasians. However, African-Americans are also more likely to have meningiomas.

Chemical Exposure

Being exposed to toxic and harmful chemicals at UR workplace can also increase the risks of developing brain cancer.

Exposure To Radiation

People exposed to ionizing radiation are at risk of developing brain tumours. Ionizing radiation can occur via high-radiation cancer therapies. Radiation from nuclear fallout has similar effects. In the past, the nuclear power plant incidents in Fukushima and Chernobyl give testament on how anyone can be exposed to ionizing radiation.

Symptoms Of A Brain Tumour

This is dependent on the location and size of the tumour. Some tumours cause direct damage by invading the brain tissue and some tumours may cause additional pressure on the brain. You’ll have noticeable symptoms when a growing tumour creates pressure on the brain tissue.
A persistent headache is one of the telltale signs of a brain tumour. You may have headaches:

  • While UR sleeping
  • May worsen after waking up
  • Are triggered while coughing, sneezing, or exercising

You may also experience:

  • Blurred vision or double vision
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Weakness in the face or limbs
  • Seizures (especially in adults)
  • A change in mental functioning
Symptoms Of Pituitary Tumours
  • Nipple discharge, or galactorrhea
  • Development of breast tissue in men
  • Lack of menstruation in women
  • Enlargement of the hands and feet
  • increased amounts of body hair, or hirsutism
  • Sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Low blood pressure
  • Blurry vision or tunnel vision
  • Obesity
How Are Brain Tumours Diagnosed ?

The diagnosis usually starts with a physical exam and after UR doctor analyzes UR medical history thoroughly which includes the following:

  • Muscle strength
  • Memory
  • Coordination
  • Logical ability
The doctor may suggest more tests after the physical exam.

These could include:

  • CT
  • MRI
  • Angiography
  • Skull X-ray
  • Biopsy
Treatment Of Brain Tumours
  • Type of tumour
  • Size of the tumour
  • Location of the tumour
  • UR general health

The most common treatment for malignant brain tumours is surgery. The primary goal is to remove as many cancer cells as possible without causing any damage or complications to the healthy parts of the brain. Sometimes, the location of some tumours allows for easy and safe removal. Other tumours may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumour can be removed. It is seen that even the partial removal of brain cancer cells can be beneficial.

The risks associated with brain surgery include infection and bleeding. Clinically dangerous benign tumours can also be removed surgically. Metastatic brain tumours are treated according to the cancer present in the body. If surgery is suggested, it is most likely to be combined with other treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation therapy. After neurosurgery, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy help you to recover.

Some tumours cause direct damage by invading brain tissue, and some tumours cause pressure on the surrounding brain.

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