Coping with... A BRAIN TUMOUR

WOMAN'S WEEKLY|June 02, 2020

Coping with... A BRAIN TUMOUR
There are many different types of this abnormal growth of brain cells
Dr Gill Jenkins

Brain tumours may be benign (non-cancerous), grade 1 or 2, which grow slowly and are less likely to return after treatment, or malignant (cancerous), grade 3 or 4, which either start from cells in the brain (primaries) or have spread from elsewhere (secondaries), and may grow back after treatment. There are many types, depending on the specific cell type they grow from.

Primary tumours affect around 11,000 people in the UK and roughly half are cancerous. Secondary tumours spread from tumours elsewhere in the body, and are more common. The cause is not clear but can have a family or genetic tendency, and are more common if you smoke, are overweight or have had previous exposure to medical radiation from X-rays and CT scans, or radiotherapy treatment.

The symptoms

These include headaches, nausea or vomiting, memory or behavioural changes, vision, speech or sensory changes, weakness, fits or paralysis. The symptoms depend on where in the brain the growth is and may slowly develop or change over time. Treatment depends on where the tumour is, its type, size, how fast it is growing, your age and health. Treatments include steroid tablets to reduce swelling around the tumour, anti-epileptic medicines if you are having seizures, and analgesia for headaches. Surgery is used to remove as much of the tumour as possible.

Benign tumours are usually easier to remove and the prognosis is good. Depending on its location, it may be difficult to remove all of a brain tumour without damaging healthy tissue, so radiotherapy or chemotherapy may be needed after surgery to shrink any remaining tumour. Regular follow-ups will be arranged to check for any relapse.

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June 02, 2020