A growth originating in the brain itself or a growth that has spread from a cancer elsewhere in the body.

 

Causes of Brain Tumour

Brain tumours can be malignant (cancerous) or benign. The benign ones, called eningiomas, are very slow growing and cause symptoms not through destruction of tissue but by placing pressure on the brain.

Malignant growths within the brain are actually relatively uncommon, despite the enormous numbers of cells that make up the brain and its supporting structures. There are a hundred thousand million nerve cells alone. In theory, any one of these could turn malignant but in fact such primary tumours are unusual. It is far more likely that a brain tumour has spread from a cancer elsewhere, for example the breast or the lung. (Cancers similarly often spread into the bones, lungs and liver, which also have exceptionally good blood supply.)

Brain tumours in children may follow from the abnormal development of the foetus’ nervous system.

Symptoms of Brain Tumour

These depend on where the tumour is growing. There arc parts of the brain where tumours can grow large without obvious problems, as in the frontal lobes. Yet even a tiny tumour in the pituitary gland produces symptoms. More destructive tumours lead to the loss of various functions, similar to the effects of a stroke but happening over weeks rather than instantly. So there may be progressive loss of use of an arm, giddiness, slurred speech or epileptic fits.

Most brain tumours eventually cause headaches. The particular features of these headaches arc that they are worse in the morning and awaken you during the night. Often there is nausea and, if more advanced, abrupt vomiting without any warning. These are effects from pressure on the brain.

A particular feature of tumours in the frontal lobes is a change in personality: the individual tends to become moody and irritable, tumours in the pituitary gland can cause unusual hormone disturbance leading to, for example, acromegaly, which is excessive bone growth.

Examination involves testing tendon reflexes, looking for weakness or unusual briskness. By examining the back of the eye through an ophthalmoscope it may be possible to detect signs of increased pressure within the brain called papilloedema. The diagnosis of brain tumours has been revolutionized by CT and MRI scanning.

Treatment of Brain Tumour

Some brain tumours can be successfully cut out – this is so with meningiomas and can lead to complete recovery. Even malignant tumours can sometimes be removed to give sufferers some relief of symptoms.

Unfortunately, most cannot be dealt with so directly. In this case the main option is radiotherapy to try to shrink the tumour. Steroid drugs also relieve the swelling around the tumour. The decision on treatment depends on the precise type of brain tumour, since some are more sensitive than others to radiotherapy.

Chemotherapy has not proved helpful in most cases, although some tumours do respond.

For all these reasons, the outlook for an adult with a malignant brain tumour is very poor. Although brain tumours are especially aggressive in children, they are often more sensitive to radiotherapy than in adults and are therefore more likely to be curable.

Complementary Treatment of Brain Tumour

Complementary therapies will not be able to kill the tumour itself; however, many can help postoperatively. Chakra balancing will help with symptom control and energy balance, and also aid relaxation during orthodox treatment. Hypnotherapy can encourage a positive attitude. Aromatherapy, massage and reflexology are generally supportive. Any of the therapies listed under Stress will be able to help ease the tensions associated with this disease.