The human brain, with its intricate networks and innumerable connections, is an organ of staggering complexity. It is the command centre of our bodies, responsible for our thoughts, emotions, memory, and the essential functioning of all other organs. But like all parts of the body, it can also be affected by disease – including brain tumours. Recognizing May as Brain Tumour Awareness Month, this article seeks to raise awareness about this serious health issue, its types, symptoms, treatments, and the importance of research and support for those living with brain tumours.
What is a Brain Tumour?
A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in the brain. There are many types of brain tumours. Some are benign, meaning they are non-cancerous and do not spread. Others are malignant, or cancerous, and can invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body. Brain tumours can start in the brain (primary brain tumours), or they can begin in other parts of the body and spread to the brain (metastatic or secondary brain tumours).
Symptoms of Brain Tumours
The symptoms of a brain tumour can vary greatly, depending largely on the tumour’s size, type, and location. Common symptoms may include new or changed pattern of headaches, unexplained nausea or vomiting, vision problems, loss of balance, speech difficulties, and seizures. In some cases, there may be no symptoms until the tumour has become quite large.
It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than brain tumours. However, anyone experiencing such symptoms should consult a healthcare professional for evaluation.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A neurologist typically diagnoses brain tumours using a combination of neurological examination, imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans, and sometimes biopsy.
Treatment for a brain tumour depends on its type, size, and location within the brain, as well as the patient’s age and overall health. Options may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapies, or a combination of these. In some cases, when the tumour is slow-growing and not causing symptoms, watchful waiting may be recommended.
Awareness and Research
Despite advances in medical science, brain tumours remain a challenging condition to diagnose and treat. They can affect people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities, and their impact can be profound – causing physical, cognitive, and emotional changes that can significantly affect quality of life.
Raising awareness about brain tumours is crucial to improving outcomes for those affected. Greater awareness can lead to earlier diagnosis, access to better treatments, and more funding for research.
Research is the key to unlocking new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for brain tumours. It spans a wide range, from studying the genetics of brain tumours to developing and testing new drugs and improving surgical techniques. Clinical trials are a critical part of this research process, offering patients access to the latest experimental treatments and contributing to the broader understanding of brain tumours.
Supporting Those Affected
Living with a brain tumour can be a daunting experience, often accompanied by fear and uncertainty. People with brain tumours and their families need extensive support. This can include information and resources to understand and manage the disease, psychological and emotional support, help with coordinating care and navigating the healthcare system, and opportunities to connect with others in similar circumstances.
There are numerous organizations and support groups, both online and offline, that offer help. These can be invaluable sources of support and understanding.
Visit www.braintumour.ca to learn more.