Brain Tumors Brain and spinal cord tumors are abnormal growths of tissue found inside the skull or on the spine. Any tumor (cancerous or non-cancerous) located near the central nervous system (brain or spinal cord) can pose a threat to health. Symptoms of brain tumors include headaches, seizures, nausea and vomiting, vision or hearing problems, behavioral and cognitive problems, motor problems, and balance problems.For a tumor that can be removed without unacceptable risk of neurological damage, surgery to remove as much tumor as possible is usually the first step in treatment. Some tumors may be inaccessible or inoperable tumor because of the risk of severe nervous system damage.
Types of Brain Tumors
MeningiomaA meningioma is a slow-growing tumor that develops from the membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. These tumors are usually benign but some may be malignant. However even “benign” tumors can grow and constrict and affect the brain, which may cause disability and may even be life threatening. Because meningiomas grow slowly, it may reach a relatively large size before it causes symptoms. Other meningiomas grow rapidly or have sudden growth spurts. Standard treatment is to remove the tumor, the portion of the lining of the brain or spinal cord where it is attached and any bone involved. Complete removal of the tumor is sometimes possible.
Pituitary TumorA pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth in the pituitary gland, the part of the brain that regulates the body’s balance of hormones. The most common treatment for pituitary tumors is surgery. The decision to pursue surgical treatment depends on the type, location and size of tumor, and the patient’s age and overall health. Most of the time, pituitary tumors can be removed through the nose and sinuses without an exernal incision. However, some tumors cannot be removed this way and will require removal through the skull with an incision in the scalp. Astrocytoma Tumors Astrocytoma tumors are the most common glioma, accounting for about half of all primary brain and spinal cord tumors.
Other symptoms for Brain Tumours can include:
- Difficulty speaking or remembering words
- Disturbed vision, hearing, smell or taste
- General irritability or a change in personality – this is sometimes noticed only by family or friends
How is Brain Tumors Diagnosed?
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. MRI is a technique that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the brain. Sometimes a special dye is injected into the bloodstream to make tumors appear different from healthy tissue (MR angiography).
- Computerized tomographies (CT) scan. A CT scan uses a sophisticated X-ray machine linked to a computer to produce detailed, two-dimensional images of the brain. A CT scan can be very helpful in certain types of tumors, especially ones close to or involving bone.
- Other brain scans. Other tests – such as magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) or positron emission tomography (PET) scanning – help doctors gauge brain tumor activity and blood flow.
- Angiogram. A special dye is injected into the arteries that feed the brain, making the blood vessels visible on X-ray. This test helps locate blood vessels in and around a brain tumor.
- Biopsy – A biopsy involves removing a piece of the tumor for viewing under a microscope. Oncologist needs to know the tumor type and grade to plan proper treatment.
What are the advances in radiation therapy of Brain Tumours?
- 3-Dimensional Conformal Radiation Therapy (3D-CRT) and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): CT scan and MRI are used to delineate the tumour and computers are used for radiation planning. Only the tumour and the high-risk region surrounding the tumour is radiated, avoiding radiation to the normal structures in the brain.
- Stereotactic Radio-surgery (SRS) and Stereotactic Radiotherapy (SRT): Highly precise immobilization and image guidance system is used for treatment of selected brain tumours . Stereotactic radio-surgery delivering high-dose of radiation in single or a very few sessions is performed in adults with tumours such as metastatic residual glioma, meningioma and schwannoma. Novalis-Tx and Cyberknife are advanced machines to deliver such high-precision therapy.
- High-definition Rapid Arc: This is the latest software advancement in radiation planning technology. Radiation is delivered in continuous fashion moving the machine head and its small components simultaneously around the patient’s head targeting the tumour by infinite small radiation beams.
- Proton beam therapy: Proton therapy avoids spillage of radiation dose to the surrounding brain. It is preferred in children as well as in patients with recurrent tumours who have received radiation therapy earlier.
Most Advanced Technology for Brain Tumours Treatment in India
- MRI Guided Brain Tumor Surgery – Advanced imaging technique now developed to enable Neurosurgeons with intra-operative MRI to aid in the removal of complex and hard-to-access brain tumors during surgery.
- Gamma Knife Radio Surgery in India – Gamma knife radio surgery is a non-invasive procedure to treat benign and malignant brain tumors.