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Brain Tumour

  • What is a Brain Tumour?

    A brain tumour refers to abnormal tissue growth in the brain. The tumour occurs when brain cells divide uncontrollably and produce extra tissue. A brain tumour can originate from the brain cells (primary), or it can spread to the brain from cancer cells in other parts of the body, such as your breast or lung (secondary). Brain tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). 

    There are different types of primary brain tumours:

    • Glioma develops from the glial cells (cells that support and protect the nerves)
    • Meningioma develops in the meninges (brain membranes)
    • Medullobalstoma develops in the cerebellum (located at the back of the brain) and is common in children
  • Currently, the exact causes of primary brain tumours are not yet fully documented. Most brain tumours develop from the uncontrollable and abnormal growth in brain cells. Some risk factors include:

    • Exposure to high doses of ionizing radiation (used to treat another cancer you may have)
    • Gender (males are at higher risk)
    • Increasing age (over 65)
    • Race (Caucasians are at higher risk)

    In addition, some hereditary factors increase your risk of brain tumour development, such as Neurofibromatosis, which is an inherited condition that affects the development and growth of nerve cells. Your risk also increases if you have a weakened immune system (if you have AIDS for example). So far, there has been no documented evidence to prove that the use of mobile phones and microwave ovens can cause brain tumours.

  • Brain tumours are characterised by various symptoms, which may include any of the following:

    • Change in mental state
    • Loss of balance
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Loss of memory
    • Nausea and giddiness
    • Problems in vision and speech
    • Regular headaches (may worsen in the morning)
    • Seizure
    • Weakness in one part of the body
  • There are different treatment options available to manage brain tumours. Your doctor will evaluate your condition and suggest the treatment that suits you best.

    This could include:

    • Chemotherapy where either an oral or an intravenous drug is used to destroy cancerous brain cells
    • Radiosurgery, which is a non-invasive and painless procedure that uses precision beams targeted directly at a small area of the tumour to shrink it or prevent it from growing
    • Radiotherapy, where high energy rays are used to destroy the tumour. You may suffer from hair loss and lethargy during this treatment
    • Surgery where the tumour can be removed entirely or partially, depending on the size of the tumour and its location
    • Targeted drug therapy consisting of drugs that target specific tumour abnormalities
    • Allergic reaction to drugs used in the treatment of the brain tumour
    • Depression
    • Headaches
    • Hearing loss
    • Increased risk of blood clot formation
    • Personality changes
    • Premature menopause and infertility (potential side effects of radiotherapy and chemotherapy)
    • Seizures
    • Vision problems, if the brain tumour damages the nerves that connect to the visual cortex (part of the brain responsible for processing visual information)
    • Weakness in one part of the body, if the brain tumour affects parts of the brain responsible for movement and strength of arms and legs
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