World Brain Tumour Day, 2023: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention
In a world with numerous health challenges, it is crucial to shed light on lesser-known battles, such as brain tumours. On this World Brain Tumour Day, we embark on a journey that bridges borders, encompassing the scientific quest for knowledge and the human desire to alleviate suffering.
World Brain Tumour Day is recognised on June 8 every year to raise awareness about brain tumours and support those affected by these tumours. Raising awareness, early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care are crucial in the battle against brain tumours, as they can significantly improve the chances of survival.
What is a brain tumour?
Primary brain tumours initiate in the brain and occur due to abnormal over-growth of brain cells. They may be malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). Even benign tumours can affect normal brain tissues and lead to severe health problems.
When cancer cells from other organs such as the lung, colon, kidney and breast metastasise and spread to the brain, it’s called a secondary brain tumour, or brain metastasis. Secondary brain tumours are more common than primary brain tumours.
Benign tumours develop slowly and are more responsive to surgical or other therapies. A malignant brain tumour is a cancerous growth within the brain that is aggressive and develops more quickly.
When early warning signs of a brain tumour are identified, they may help with immediate medical action. It is important to be vigilant and aware of these potential signs. Here is the list of brain tumour symptoms:
- Changes in mental status
- Visual problems
- Limb weakness
- Loss of consciousness.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Confusion and irritability
How are brain tumours treated?
Brain tumour treatment depends on factors such as tumour location, size, type, number, age, and overall health. Treatment options include:
Brain surgery (craniotomy)
Surgical removal of the tumour, when possible, with careful consideration to minimise damage to the brain tissues.
High-dose X-rays to destroy tumour cells or shrink the tumour.
Focused beams of radiation (gamma rays or proton beams) to destroy the tumour cells without an incision.
Placement of radioactive implants directly in or near the tumour.
Use of anticancer drugs to kill tumour cells, administered through injections or pills.
Stimulation of the immune system to help fight cancer cells.
Watchful waiting/active surveillance
Close monitoring of small, asymptomatic tumours for signs of growth.
Shunts to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid, drugs to reduce skull pressure and swelling, and palliative care to provide symptom relief and support for patients and caregivers.
It's important to note that treatment plans are personalised based on individual circumstances, and multiple therapies may be combined for the best possible outcome.
Can brain tumours be prevented?
Preventing a brain tumour is not possible, as the brain tumours causes are often multifactorial and not fully understood. However, certain lifestyle choices and precautions can potentially lower the chances of acquiring a brain tumour. While these measures cannot guarantee complete prevention, they may contribute to overall health and well-being.
Brain tumour prevention
Smoking is a proven risk factor for various types of cancer. Although the direct link between smoking and brain tumours is not well-established,quitting smoking or avoiding exposure to secondhand smoke can improve overall health and potentially reduce the risk of developing tumours.
Minimise radiation exposure
Excessive exposure to radiation, such as from radiation therapy and unnecessary medical imaging scans, may increase the risk of developing brain tumours. It is important to follow safety guidelines, use appropriate shielding, and limit exposure to ionising radiation.
Genetic counselling and testing
If you have a first-degree biological family with a brain tumour (such as a sibling or parent), informing your healthcare provider is crucial. They may recommend genetic counselling and testing to determine if you have an inherited genetic syndrome linked to a higher impact of brain tumours.
Occupational and environmental hazards
Take precautions to minimise exposure to potentially harmful chemicals, toxins, and environmental hazards. Follow safety guidelines and use protective measures if you work in an occupation that involves exposure to such substances.
Healthy lifestyle choices
Adapting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to overall well-being and potentially reduce the risk of various types of cancer, including brain tumours. Maintain a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Engage in regular physical exercise, manage stress levels, and prioritise sufficient sleep.
It is important to note that while these preventive measures can potentially reduce the risk of brain tumours, there is no guaranteed way to prevent their development completely. Regular medical check-ups and awareness of any concerning symptoms are essential for early detection and appropriate medical care. If you experience any unusual symptoms or have concerns, consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.