Brain Tumors: Risk Factors, Symptoms and Treatment Options

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in the brain tissue. Brain tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) and can form in the brain or form in other parts of the body and spread to the brain.

Because there are many different types of brain tumors, and even the same types of brain tumors may differ in their size and rate of growth, the symptoms, treatment, and prognosis for each may vary widely.

Brain Tumor Risk Factors

In the large majority of patients with brain tumors, the exact cause of the tumor is unclear. In fact, little is known about the causes of brain tumors, but over the years two definitive factors have been identified that may increase someone’s chance of developing a brain tumor.

First, exposure to ionizing radiation may increase the risk of brain tumors. This type of radiation is used in radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer and is the same type of radiation created by atomic bombs. The other risk factor includes a family history of brain tumors. A few types of brain tumors primarily occur in people who have a family history of these tumors, while other may be susceptible from genetic syndromes that increase the risk of brain tumors.

Brain Tumor Symptoms

As mentioned, the symptoms of brain tumors may vary widely based on the size, location, growth rate, and type of tumor. Common symptoms may include:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of balance
  • Coordination impairment
  • Partial or complete loss of vision
  • Changes in speech, hearing, memory or emotional state
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep problems

There are certainly other potential symptoms of brain tumors, but the eight listed above are among the most common across all types of brain tumors.

Brain Tumor Treatment

In most cases, the primary treatment of brain tumors, whether they’re benign or malignant, is surgical removal. The goal is often to remove the entire mass of abnormal cells, but this is not always possible when healthy brain tissue is at risk.

When not all of a brain tumor can be removed, other forms of treatment may be recommended by a neurosurgeon or physician. Usually, this will include some form of radiotherapy, which uses targeted radiation to kill the rest of the brain tumor, or another form of chemotherapy taken in pill form or intravenously.

While the causes of brain tumors are largely unknown, there are several options for treatment managing symptoms. Those with brain tumors should always consult their neurosurgeon for guidance in the path to remission.

To learn more on this topic, read about Hudson Valley Brain and Spine Surgery’s brain tumor surgical treatments.

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