Brain tumors include tumors occurring in the brain, but also tumors appearing in neighboring tissues and growing towards the inside of the skull. There is still no clear information on how brain tumors develop, as in some types of cancer. The only certainty is that they may affect any age group.
What are the symptoms?
Brain tumors may exhibit common symptoms such as sharp headaches, nausea and vomiting, resulting from the pressure increase, as they are located within the skull. There may, in addition, be a variety of symptoms depending on the affected area of the brain: weakness or numbness in the left or right half of the body, an abnormal gait, loss of vision, hearing loss, memory loss or disorder, difficulty in speaking or imbalance. In pituitary gland tumors, on the other hand, various hormonal disorders such as menstrual irregularity, overgrowth of hands and feet, etc. may be seen.
What are the diagnostic methods?
The modern imaging methods used in the diagnosis of brain tumors are brain tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. In some special tumors, brain tomography provides valuable information. However, the golden standard in the brain tumors diagnosis today is the magnetic resonance imaging. This method provides detailed information on the structure of the brain, the area where the tumor is located, the type of tumor (in some cases) and how much the brain and nerves are affected by the tumor. In addition, a number of different methods, such as angiography and PET may be required. By the use of these methods, information on the blood built up of the tumor and whether the tumor is malign or not can be obtained.
How are they treated?
Basically, three separate methods are applied in the treatment of brain tumors: surgical operation, drug therapy and radiation therapy. Out of these three methods, the surgical operation method is the most prominent. The reason for this is that tumors generally put pressure on the brain within the skull and increase intracranial pressure.
Surgical operation: A surgical operation allows the removal of the tumor, relieving the brain and nerves and allowing a pathological examination for the determination of the tumor type. Moreover, surgical operations have undergone considerable progress lately. For instance, the use of the surgical microscope has become standard. The use of intraoperative MR provides a significant contribution to the removal of some tumors. The rate of surgery-related complications has declined considerably when compared to the past. Patients may now be discharged from hospital and return to their normal daily lives in a shorter space of time.
Chemotherapy (medicated treatment): The technology in the field of medicated treatments has progressed in leaps and bounds. Chemotherapy which is generally used for the treatment of malign tumors extend the life expectancy of patients and sometimes enable a full recovery. However, medicated treatments may also be required for benign tumors as well and particularly in pituitary gland tumors..
Radiation (radiotherapy): Radiation has been used in the treatment of brain tumors for a long period of time. This field has also undergone significant technological developments. Consequently, devices and radiotherapy methods with reduced side effects and with an increased effective power have been developed. In addition, surgical operations are not required for most brain tumors, as the technique known as radiosurgery and, in particular, the procedure known as Gamma Knife radiosurgery, are now being used.