What are the Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumours in general?
What are Brain Tumors?
Brain tumors are abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells within the skull and spinal canal. Brain tumours include tumours in the brain parenchyma, cranial nerves, lymphatics and blood vessels, meninges and glands.
What are the Types of Brain Tumous?
Brain Tumours can be
Benign: Benign tumours are generally encapsulated (covered by a capsule and does not infiltrate into the surrounding tissues). They are also considered non – life threatening which may not always is in case of brain tumours. Even when they are not invading the surroundings, benign tumours can cause pressure to the surrounding structures and it can also lead to signs and symptoms related to increased intracranial pressure.
Malignant: Malignant tumours have aggressive growth pattern and they invade the surrounding tissues. They can also spread to distant parts of the body through lymphatic system or blood stream. In case of brain tumors, the malignancy can be spread through cerebro spinal fluid.
What are the Risk Factors for Brain Tumor?
The exact reason for the development of brain tumors is not clear. Genetic factors are thought to cause the transformation of normal cell to malignant cell. Errors in the replication of deoxyribonucleic acid may cause mutation in genes.
The Risk Factors for the development of Brain Tumours include
Radiation to the cranium: Radiation therapyto the cranium to treat other cancers may increase relative risk of meningiomas and gliomas.
Environmental factors: like mobile phone usage, smoking, diet and certain occupational factors are attributed to the development of brain tumours. But these are not proved as of now.
Genetic Factors: Increased incidence of acoustic neuroma and meningioma are associated with mutation on chromosome 22 and increased incidence of astrocytoma and neurofibroma are associated with mutation on chromosome 17.
How to Monitor a person with Brain Tumor
. Glasgo Coma Scale to assess level of Consciousness
. Assess pupil for size, reaction and symmetry
. Monitor Intracranial Pressure
Symptoms of Brain Tumors
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumors?
Focal neurological deficits, seizures, increased intracranial pressure and endocrine disturbances are the most common signs and symptoms of brain tumors.
- Focal neurological deficits: Focal neurological deficits are based the location and size of the lesion. If the symptoms progress over a period of time, it is more likely to be because of structural lesions. Acute deficits are usually characteristics of blood vessel pathology. But acute deficits can also be seen if there is bleeding into the tumors.
Symptoms based on the location include
Frontal lobe tumors: personality changes
Parietal lobe tumors: Sensory problems
Temporal lobe tumors: disturbance of memory
Occipital lobe tumors: Problems related to vision
Pituitary macroadenoma: bitemporal hemianopia
Vestibular Schwannoma: ipsilateral hearing loss, tinnitus and dysequilibrium
2. Increased intracranial pressure: The signs and symptoms of increased intracranial pressure may include head ache, vomiting, increase in blood pressure, decreased pulse rate and/or decreased breath rate.When the intracranial pressure goes very high (the normal being upto 12 cm of H2O), there can be further deterioration of the patient. There can be a decrease in the level of consciousness, seizures (fits), paralysis and the person may become completely dependent on others.
3. Seizures: Seizures can be an initial manifestation of a brain tumor. Seizures are either partial or generalised.
Partial seizures are more commonly associated with brain tumors arising in the parietal lobe. These partial seizures may progress to generalised seizures.
Medial temporal lobe lesions are known to cause complex partial seizures.
4. Brain edema: is a sign which can be seen in the MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) films or CT scans of patients with brain tumor. Edema is seen surrounding the tumor. Depending on the extent of edema patients level of consciousness may change and they can have other neurological problems depending on the location
5. Brain Displacement and herniation: Since skull is a closed compartment, the increasing brain edema and intracranial pressure will not be able to accommodate the increased volume of brain tissue. So the brain tissue starts shifting to an adjacent compartment where the pressure is low. Herniation is a serious and life-threatening complication of increased intracranial pressure
The signs and symptoms of brain tumors vary widely depending on the type and location of tumor. Although headache is a very common symptom of brain tumor, all headaches are not due to brain tumors. Anyone experiencing any of the abovementioned symptoms must contact a medical practitioner get themselves checked before reaching conlcusions
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