What is Brain Tumor? What are the Symptoms of Brain Tumor?
The NCI defines brain tumor as, the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Brain tumors can be benign or malignant.
Cancer that does not have origin in brain but those that spread to the brain are secondary brain tumors. Now, most of us are aware that benign tumors are not something to worry about, however, where brain tumors are concerned, benign tumors as well as metastatic tumors can be serious and life threatening.
Yes, benign brain tumors do not contain cancer cells, nor do they invade surrounding or nearby tissues. But, the tumor mass may press against certain parts of brain leading to serious implications.
Malignant brain tumors usually grow quickly and increase pressure in the brain. They spread to spinal cord and are often life threatening. This does not necessarily mean that they are all invariably fatal. The threat level of a brain tumor depends on many factors like,
- State of development
Primary brain tumors are usually located in the posterior cranila fossa in children and in anterior cerebral hemispheres in adults.
What are the symptoms of brain tumor?
Symptoms of brain tumor become apparent based on two main factors,
- Tumor size or volume
- Tumor location
Symptoms of brain tumor, both benign and malignant tumors can be divided into three main categories:
- Symptoms occurring due to intracranial hypertension: Large sized tumors increase intracranial pressure leading to
- Vomiting without nausea
- Altered state of consciousness
- Dilation of pupil
Even small tumors can which obstruct cerebrospinal fluid passage may initiate an increase in intracranial pressure. A rise in intracranial pressure may cause herniation or displacement of parts of the brain resulting in brain compression.
- Dysfunction: Due to location of tumor and size, surrounding brain structures may be in distress causing
- Cognitive and behavioral impairment
- Focal neurological symptoms
- Personality changes
- Visual field impairment
- Impaired sense of smell
- Impaired hearing
- Facial paralysis
- Double vision
- Paralysis of one side of body
- Abnormal fatigue
- Absences and tremors
- Epileptic seizures
Almost all the above symptoms are true for neoplasms. It is very common for a person to have no identifying presentation of a tumor and carrying it for several years. Intermittent symptoms like weariness or vomiting might surface but these are easily mistaken for less serious gastritis!
Brain, by itself cannot fell pain. Pain is always felt outside of the skull. Hence, secondary symptoms like those above should put the physician on alert for the plausibility of brain tumor.