Brain Tumor

Brain Tumor

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A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue in which some cells grow and multiply uncontrollably. There are many different types of brain tumors, some of which are noncancerous (benign) and those of which are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can either start in the brain (primary brain tumor) and can be benign or malignant, or can spread to the brain from cancer that develops in other parts of the body (secondary or metastatic brain tumor) in which case they are malignant.

When normal mechanisms that control normal cells are damaged, cells may divide too rapidly and may eventually grow into a tumor. The growth of a tumor takes up space within the skull and interferes with normal brain activity. A tumor can cause damage by increasing pressure in the brain, by shifting the brain or pushing it against the skull, and by invading and damaging nerves and healthy brain tissue.

Symptoms

Symptoms of a brain tumor vary depending on the type of tumor, its size and location in the brain. However the most common symptoms include:

  • Headaches that become more frequent and severe
  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting
  • Unexplained vision changes (blurred or double vision)
  • Difficulties in speech processing, thinking or word finding
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Seizures and/or convulsions
  • Behavior or extreme personality changes
  • Difficulty in keeping ones balance
  • Memory loss
  • Loss of movement in extremities

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is done during a full neurological exam including collecting the medical history of the patient. Brain scans such as with an MRI or CT scan will also be done to confirm and verify the location of the brain tumor. A biopsy may also be done to determine whether the tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

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