Brain cancer is a malignant brain tumor that can spread rapidly to other parts of the brain and spine. Keep in mind, not all brain tumors are malignant and can be categorized as cancer. There is also a benign brain tumor. Benign brain tumor is a group of brain cells that grow slowly and do not spread to other parts. Brain tumor itself is the growth of brain cells that are unnatural and uncontrollable. In the brain, the tumor can develop from the cells that make up the brain tissue, from the nerves going in and out of the brain, and from the protective membranes of the brain and the spinal cord (meninges).
According to the origin, brain tumors are divided into two, namely primary and secondary. The primary brain tumor is a tumor that appears in the brain, whereas secondary brain tumors are tumors that originate from other body parts but spread to the brain.
Most cases of brain cancer are a type of secondary brain cancer, where cancer begins with other organs and then spreads to the brain. When viewed from the level of development and the rate of growth and spread, brain tumor malignancy is divided into 4 levels:
- Staging 1 and 2: Generally it is benign.
- Stage 3 and 4: usually malignant, and can be called as 'kanker'.
Symptoms of Brain Cancer
Symptoms of a brain tumor vary from one patient to another depending on the size and part of the affected brain. Tumors can make the area of the affected brain not function properly and suppress the brain tissue causing headaches and convulsions.
Here are some common symptoms of another brain tumor:
- Excessive fatigue and easy drowsiness.
- Impaired vision.
- Disorder walking and talking.
- Throws up.
Primary brain cancer has three factors that can affect treatment outcomes:
- The type of brain cell that becomes a tumor.
- The location of the tumor in the brain.
- The health condition and age of the patient when diagnosed with a tumor.
While in secondary brain cancer, treatment benefits only to relieve symptoms and prolong life only. Because of the small possibility for patients to recover completely, especially tumors and cancer that has spread to other body parts.
For Brain Cancer Patients
Feeling fear is a natural thing for people with brain cancer. The whole family of sufferers should be involved in all decision-making and how to live everyday life. Families should also understand and understand what is and is likely to happen.
Here are some things that might help you, your family, and your close friends to cope with the changes in life:
- Seeking accurate medical information about disease and choice of brain cancer treatment process.
- If you find it difficult to remember questions and answers, write them down as a reminder. Prepare something to take notes.
- It is good for you to make decisions actively in your choice of treatment and care. This can help eliminate the fear of incomprehension and you may feel you have control over what happens.
- Do not force yourself to move on as it was before you were diagnosed. Set a limit for yourself.
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Symptoms Of Brain Cancer
Symptoms of brain cancer vary depending on the size, location and how fast the development in the brain. The symptoms that occur are due to the presence of tumors that suppress the brain or due to the tumor blocking a part of the brain to function as usual.
If the pressure inside the head cavity rises as a result of a tumor, the following symptoms may occur:
- Unstoppable and sustained headaches .
- Vomiting that occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason.
- Epilepsy or convulsions. Can occur throughout the body or there is a twitch in one particular body area only.
- Easy to forget, angry, sleepy, or indifferent.
- Losing part of sight or hearing.
- Personality changes, such as abnormal behavior and unlike the usual character.
Our brain controls many body functions. The location of the presence of tumors in the brain will determine which functions will be affected.
- Convulsions or fainting , hearing a voice inside the head and a speech or memory disorder is a symptom of a tumor in the side of the brain.
- Changes in personality, weakness on one side of the body, loss of order, apathy (no longer concerned about the surrounding and itself), as well as impaired sense of smell and vision is a symptom of the emergence of tumors in the front of the brain.
- Impaired sense of vision on one side is a symptom of a tumor in the back of the brain.
- Difficulty in understanding words, speaking disorders, writing, reading and organizing certain movements, and numbness on one side of the body can occur are some of the tumor symptoms in the midbrain.
- Body imbalances, difficulty walking, weakening of facial muscles, visual impairment, speech and swallowing may be caused by tumors in the brainstem.
- Headaches, visual disturbances and gestures can be a sign of tumors in the lining of the brain.
- Loss of body coordination, difficulty walking and talking, eyes twitching, vomiting, and neck stiffness are symptoms that may occur if the tumor is located in the cerebellum.
Causes Of Brain Cancer
Most brain cancers are the result of cancer spread from other organs through the bloodstream. While the cause of brain cancer originating directly from the brain is still unknown.
The risk of primary brain cancer may be higher with the following genetic diseases:
- Tuberose Sclerosis.
- Gorlin Syndrome.
- Li-Fraumeni cancer syndrome.
- Turcot Syndrome.
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.
- Hereditary factors. Have a family member diagnosed with a brain tumor.
- Radiotherapy . The brain is exposed to radiation while undergoing radiotherapy.
- Exposure to chemicals , such as formaldehyde.
- HIV viral infection.
- Exposed toxins from the surrounding environment.
Diagnosis Of Brain Cancer
A severe and sustained headache is one of the symptoms of brain cancer. Try to consult your doctor if you experience it as a first aid measure. You may then be referred to a specialist.
The doctor will examine the nerve endings of the eye on the retinal lining (the innermost layer) of the eyeball, when bubbling means there is an increase in pressure inside the head cavity. This could be a sign of a tumor. If there is suspected growth, you should see a specialist brain and nerve (neurological).
Medical history and symptoms that have been experienced will be questioned by a specialist. Your nervous system will be examined and some checks include:
- Hearing and sight
- The facial muscles (the ability to smile or grin)
- Reflex swallowing movement as well as knee lift reflex
- Skin sensitivity to small, hot, and cold wounds
- Strength, balance, and body coordination
- Mental agility (simple or arithmetic questions)
- CT Scan - imaging details of the brain using X-rays.
- MRI Scan - imaging details of the brain using strong magnetic fields and radio waves.
- EEG - an electrode that records brain activity.
- PET Scan - imaging details of the brain in three dimensions.
- Angiogram - imaging details of blood vessels using X-rays.
- Lumbar puncture - the removal of cerebrospinal fluid from the spinal cord to be analyzed.
- Biopsy - tissue sampling is performed to determine the type of tumor and its treatment.
Patients with brain cancer usually require surgery to remove the tumor. Remaining tissue remaining tumors are treated with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of both.
After treatment, brain cancer can reappear. When this happens, the next procedure is to extend the life span as long as possible and deal with the symptoms.
Treatment Of Primary Brain Cancer
Some treatments for primary brain cancer (originating from the brain) are:
The purpose of surgery is to remove as many tumors as possible in the brain without damaging surrounding tissue. To see the brain and the tumor in it, a portion of the skull will be opened. This is known as the craniotomy process. After that, a brain surgeon can remove the tumor.
In addition to surgery, your doctor may perform hot pediatric therapy . In this therapy, a light-sensitive drug is inserted into the blood vessels and absorbed by the remaining cancer cells. When laser light is directed at cancer cells, this drug will be active and kill cancer cells.
To reduce the risk that the tumor does not return, after surgery removal of the primary tumor, the tumor will be treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy, or it can be a combination of both.
Chemotherapy is done to treat tumors deep inside the brain and difficult to remove without damaging other nerve tissue. Chemotherapy is a treatment used to kill cancer cells and can be given in the form of tablets, injections, or implants. Two chemotherapeutic drugs used in the treatment of high-grade brain tumors are:
- Carmustine implants. These implants will dissolve and release carmustine to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells. Some of the side effects of Carmustine implants are brain edema (increased brain fluid), infection in the brain, convulsions .
- Temozolamide . This drug is given to glioma malignant patients to slow the development of tumors after initial treatment or when the tumor reappears. Side effects of temozolomide include headache , constipation , fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
Just like chemotherapy, radiotherapy and radiosurgery are also performed to treat tumors deep within the brain and difficult to remove. In the process of radiotherapy, high-energy radiation doses are centered on tumors to stop cancer cells from continuing to multiply.
While in radiosurgery , the radiation used has a lower intensity and this radiation is administered over several times. The function of radiosurgery is to concentrate the radiation dose with high levels of energy on the tumor to kill it.
The difference, in radiotherapy is on the radiation beam with a higher intensity, centered on a small part of the area of the brain, and is only given for one session (not several times).
Handling Against Secondary Brain Cancer
Understanding of secondary tumors is a tumor that has spread to other parts of the body and has been indicated as a serious tumor condition. Under these conditions, treatment is continued only to prolong the life and control of the tumor. Treatments that can be done:
- Painkillers , to relieve headaches.
- Anti-nausea medication, can help relieve symptoms of nausea caused by increased pressure within the skeleton head.
- Corticosteroids , drugs to reduce swelling and pressure on the brain.
- Anti- convulsant medications , which prevent epilepsy seizures.
- Chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
If choosing palliative care, the patient will only get side effects from treatment without removing the tumor. Consult a physician so that the sufferer understands what will happen if you choose not to be treated.