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Brain Cancer: It’s all In the Head

Brain Cancer Treatment and Surgery

What Is Brain Cancer Treatment And Surgery?

An abnormal growth of cells in any part of the brain, resulting in the compression of blood vessels or nerves is termed as brain cancer. The cancer may be benign or localized to the brain, or may turn into a metastatic one and spread to the other parts of the body. Cancer can occur either in the cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla oblongata, any nerve or blood vessel entering or leaving the brain. Various grades of brain cancer can be identified for a host of cancer types.

Causes Of Brain Cancer:

  • Brain cancers are known to have a ten percent chance of being inherited
  • Ischemia, that is lack of oxygen supply may trigger a cancerous growth
  • Sometimes the cause maybe unknown
  • Damage to any part of brain in terms of shock, trauma, injury may lead to an abnormal
  • Certain drugs are known to induce abnormal growth in brain cells leading to both hypertrophy and hyperplasia of the cells
  • Environmental factors such exposure to radiation, excessive alcohol consumption may also lead brain cancers.

Signs and Symptoms Of Brain Cancer:

  • A headache is the most common and one of the earliest symptoms of cancer of the brain. A change can be observed in the type and pattern of the headache. As for example it can occur only on lying down positions and subside while sitting. A certain area of the head may experience pain. It may be continuous in nature, throbbing or occurring at regular intervals.
  • Vision problems, blurred or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions, episodes of loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty in reading, writing or co ordination between the two activities
  • Lack of adequate sleep, drowsiness
  • Difficulty in remembering, memory issues
  • Tremors in extremities, altered gait, uncoordinated movements between the limbs
  • Inconsistent bladder and bowel movements
  • General weakness, nausea, vomiting

Diagnosis of Brain Cancer:

  • Computed tomography CT scan: It is the most commonly advised diagnostic test for brain cancer detection and confirmation. It gives a clear picture of all the bones of the skull with the configuration of the sutures and the entire mass of brain can be studied.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging MRI: This diagnostic test follows next in line after a CT scan has been done. It helps in the exact location of the cancer, number of cancer masses present, course of the blood vessels and the nerves and their involvement.
  • Biopsy: This can also be considered as a treatment approach for brain cancer since it is done under general anesthesia. In this procedure, skull is fractured so as to expose the brain. Once this is done, the mass is excised and the skull is closed and sutured back. The mass removed is then studied in labs for the type, nature and pattern of the cancer cells. It also can help in knowing whether the cancer has the ability to recur or not and hence decide the further course of action accordingly.

Types of Brain Cancer:

One method of classifying brain cancers is based on the origin. They can be classified as:

  • Primary brain cancer: These have their origin in the brain and are confined to the brain
  • Secondary brain cancer: These develop elsewhere in the body and tend to travel to the brain

These are different from the typical terms ‘benign’ and ‘malignant’ used for the brain cancer. Benign cancers start in the brain and remain confined to the brain mass. Malignant cells though have their origin in the brain, become aggressive at some stage in their lives and tend to invade the distant and far tissues.

A cancer of any type of the brain can be staged into 4 different grades as follows:

  • Grade I: Cells look normal, grow slowly, good survival rate
  • Grade II: Cells look abnormal, grow at a slow rate though, may recur after treatment
  • Grade III: Cells look abnormal, grow rapidly, cancer invades the surrounding tissues
  • Grade IV: Complete invasion into the adjacent tissues

There can also be different types of cancers of the brain depending upon the cells they involve. These are:

  • Astrocytomas: These arise commonly in the cerebrum and can be of any grade. They mostly cause convulsions and changes in the behavior.
  • Meningiomas: These are the most common primary brain tumors in adults. They are most likely to occur in your 70s or 80s. They arise in the meninges, the lining of the brain. They can be grade 1, 2, or 3. They are often benign and grow slowly.
  • Oligodendrogliomas: These arise in the cells that make the covering that protects nerves. They are usually grade 1, 2, or 3. They usually grow slowly and dont spread to nearby tissue.

Treatment Procedures for Brain Cancer:

  • Radiation therapy RT: It is a branch of medicine that aims at killing cancer cells in the early stages. This can be used as a solo treatment modality for any kind of brain cancer or else can be combined with chemotherapy and/or surgery. In curative RT, ionizing radiation beams are targeted towards the nucleus of the abnormal cells which bring about disintegration of its DNA. As a result they undergo apoptosis i.e cellular death & the division eventually stops. It is a fairly painless procedure. Adjunctive RT is used along with chemotherapy sessions or post surgical removal. The palliative type does not aim at curing the cancer, it only provides symptomatic relief. The number of radiation therapies & the dose per appointment is decided by the oncologist as per the tumor stage. Total duration may last from anytime between 2-3 months to 10-12 years depending upon the aggressiveness of the cancer & response of the patient.
  • Chemotherapy: It is a treatment strategy which uses anticancer drugs instead of radiation. These drugs interfere with the metabolism of the cancerous cells & prolong the cellular division. They reduce the availability of nutrients from the surrounding environment which these cells may require for multiplication. Also they prevent spreading or migration of the tumor mass into the adjacent spaces. Reduction or shrinkage of the cancer mass may also be achieved with chemo sessions.
  • Surgical management: If the brain tumor is located in a place that makes it accessible for an operation, it becomes easy for the surgeon to remove as much of the brain tumor as possible. In some cases, tumors are small and easy to separate from surrounding brain tissue, which makes complete surgical removal possible. In other cases, tumors cant be separated from surrounding tissue or theyre located near sensitive areas in the brain, making surgery risky. In these situations, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as is safe. Even removing a portion of the brain tumor may help reduce your signs and symptoms. Surgery to remove a brain tumor carries risks, such as infection and bleeding. Other risks may depend on the part of the brain where the tumor is located. For instance, surgery on a tumor near nerves that connect to the eyes may carry a risk of vision loss.

Complications And Risk Factors Associated With Brain Cancer:

  • Radiation and chemotherapy may cause tremendous loss of hair, sore throat, skin rashes, irritation
  • Surgical intervention may damage any nerve or blood vessel
  • Decreased immune levels, increased chances of infection
  • Difficulty in understanding certain things
  • Uncontrolled urinary and bowel movements
  • Loss of sensation in certain parts, paresthesia

Am I Good Candidate for Brain Cancer Treatment?

If any of the below mentioned symptoms affect you at any age of your life, you are an ideal case for brain cancer treatment:

  • Severe headaches
  • Vision problems, blurred or double vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions, episodes of loss of consciousness
  • Difficulty in reading, writing or co ordination between the two activities
  • Lack of adequate sleep, drowsiness
  • Difficulty in remembering, memory issues
  • Tremors in extremities, altered gait, uncoordinated movements between the limbs

Recovery Time:

A surgical intervention takes about 8 to 10 weeks to come into routine. A hospital stay of about 10 to 15 days is required.

Success Rate:

For any type of brain cancer in the stage I, a surgical correction guarantees 70 percent success and increased life span by 8-10 years. Stages II, III and IV have 55.56, 45.34 and 30 percent chances of being successful respectively. Stage IV cancers may show a lifespan of 8 months to one year even after being treated surgically.

Benefits of Brain Cancer Treatment and Surgery:

Treatment of the cancer soon as it has been recognized helps in the following ways:

  • Prevents the invasion of the cancer into the adjacent tissues
  • Corrects the symptoms at the early age and prevents complications
  • Restores the ability of the brain to perform well

Cost comparisons:

The minimum cost inclusive of radiation therapy and surgical management for any grade brain cancer in India is far less as compared to an annual session of radiation therapy required for the same in the United States.

Why choose India:

One of the finest and efficient networks for medical tourism is provided by team MedcureIndia, rooted in the lands of India. We aim at giving the best of information regarding the subject of concern, to our clients. In cases of brain cancer diagnosis and treatment, India houses numerous hospitals and institutes where such modalities are offered at affordable costs. Also clinical trials for the less commonly encountered cancers of brain are being carried out in our country.

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