According to the American Brain Tumor Association, 80,000 new cases of primary brain tumors are diagnosed annually. Of those, 32 percent are malignant. Fifty-nine is the median age of all types of brain tumors at the time of diagnosis, and there are more than 100 distinct types of primary central nervous system and brain tumors. Metastatic brain tumors are more common in adults than they are in children.
While the initial diagnosis of a brain tumor is terrifying, survival after diagnosis varies greatly from one person and tumor to the next. Receiving the diagnosis of a brain tumor can be one of the most terrifying to receive, but educating yourself about your condition and treatment options can relieve some of the fear while empowering you to make informed decisions about your treatment options.
Signs and Symptoms of Brain Tumors
There are many different signs and symptoms of brain tumors, some you may not even recognize, by themselves, as symptoms of something so serious. Mayo Clinic reports that the following are some of the signs you might want to look for that could indicate a brain tumor.
- Blurred or doubled vision or the loss of your peripheral vision.
- Changes in behavior and/or personality.
- Difficulty hearing.
- Difficulty speaking.
- Headaches that become more severe and develop more frequently.
- Loss of balance.
- Loss of coordination.
- Loss of sensation or movement in an arm or leg.
- Seizures (especially if you don’t have a history of seizures).
- Short-term memory loss.
- Unexplained nausea.
Early detection often depends on you understanding these signs and symptoms for what they are. Alone, they may mean nothing at all, but if you are experiencing multiple symptoms from the list, it is worth your health and your peace of mind to see your doctor to determine the cause of these symptoms – even if it isn’t a brain tumor.
Causes of Brain Tumors
There are various types of brain tumors that often have different origins. Primary brain tumors often begin in or near the brain. This may include cranial nerves or the pineal gland and even the pituitary gland. Tumors occur as a result of mutations in the DNA of normal cells. The mutations reproduce at accelerate rates creating the mass of cells we know as a tumor. The following are common types of primary brain tumors:
- Acoustic Neuromas (also called Schwannomas)
- Pituitary Adenomas
Secondary brain tumors, sometimes referred to as metastatic tumors, are far more common than primary brain tumors. These tumors occur when cancer begins somewhere else in the body but spreads to the brain.
There is evidence that a small percentage of brain tumors can be linked to hereditary factors as well as genetic diseases, like Li-Fraumeni syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau disease, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, and others.
Doctors to Visit for Brain Tumors
Diagnosing brain tumors requires visiting a physician. Finding the right kind of physician to treat your condition – or even adequately diagnose it – may require a referral from your primary care provider to one of the following types of doctors:
- Radiation Oncologist
The best place to begin is your primary physician and then work up to the specialist who will best meet your needs according to the specific type of brain tumor you have.
Treatments for Brain Tumors
Treatment will vary widely from one person to the next when it comes to brain tumors. Things that may affect the treatment suggested for you include the size and location of the tumor, the state of your overall health, and your personal preferences (how aggressive you prefer your treatment to be).
Chief among your options are:
- Radiation Therapy
- Targeted Drug Therapies
Your physician may even refer you to rehabilitative services like speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and other types of treatment to help you recover from the effects of the tumor.
Whether you suspect a brain tumor, have been diagnosed with a brain tumor, or love someone who has, the more you understand your condition the more prepared you are to participate in your treatment and recovery.