Brain Cancer

5 February, 2020

Intracranial tumours are a prominent public health hazard, accounting for an increasing morbidity and mortality rates globally. If quantification is needed, it’s readily available, courtesy several prestigious resources. Per Cancer.net, 23,880 adults, including 10,160 females, 13,720 men, along with 3,560 minors, in the US were affected by brain malignancies in 2017. In terms of incidence rates, the victims of this lethal condition can be categorized as 16.2% of children and 83.8% of adults, among which 43% are women and 57% are males. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov indicates Astrocytomas, with an incidence rate at 38.7%, to be the commonest of primary tumours in India, followed by Meningiomas and Glioblastoma. The same resource also brings forth the inclination that males have for Glioblastoma and females for Meningiomas.

Signs and Symptoms:

The intracranial tumours are hard to identify at the early stages when recovery is possible due to the lack of signs and symptoms. However, at times, certain generic and specific symptoms are visible that should be taken seriously. The generic cancer symptoms are a result of the pressure exerted by a tumour on the spinal cord while specific symptoms originate in wake of the impact caused by tumours on specific parts of the brain controlling specific functions. Depending on the location or size of a tumour, the following symptoms usually surface.

  • Unexplained headaches, especially in the morning hours, escalating with activity. In advanced stages, they are often severe enough to keep you awake all night.
  • The patient often finds it hard to speak or articulate.
  • You tend to lose your balance while walking.
  • The intracranial tumours impact your ability to think and reason. If the condition persists, medical intervention is recommended.
  • Seizures and convulsions are generic indicators but should not be taken lightly.
  • If you are experiencing personality changes, it’s time to seek cancer screening.
  • Certain brain tumours restrict the movement of certain body parts to the point of paralysis.
  • Dizziness can be a regular fixture with certain brain tumours.
  • You may experience vision and hearing loss, particularly when a tumour gains mass.
  • Constant numbness and tingling in the face and other body parts can also be a clinical indication of brain cancers.
  • Constant nausea and the urge to vomit may indicate the presence of brain malignancies.
  • When fatigue and drowsiness mark your day, ensure timely medical intervention.

Causes of a Brain Tumour:

Intracranial tumours can be primary or secondary depending on the site of origin.  The origin of cancers can be nailed down to the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells in a particular body organ. The new cell production outnumbers the need, leading to the formation of malignant and non-malignant tumours. While non-malignant tumours are localized, the malignant ones may travel from the initial site to distant organs through the bloodstream. If cancers develop and stay in the intracranial region, they are primary while tumours coming from breast, bladder, kidney, lung and other body parts to metastasis in the brain are secondary.

Although the exact reason for intracranial tumours is yet to be uncovered, it is believed that the inability of genes to self-destruct and control the cell reproduction accounts for the dreaded condition. The tumours manage to evade detection by the immune system, which is tasked to identify and destroy any unwanted, potentially dangerous cell build up throughout the body until they develop fully. While the origin is still a mystery, risk factors are evident. They include:

  • Age: Though no one is immune to a brain tumour, it is more prevalent with 40+ aged.
  • Gender: Men are more vulnerable to this condition as compared to women.
  • Environment: People working or living in environments contaminated by pesticides, rubber and solvents are more vulnerable to intracranial tumours.
  • Hereditary: Of the total infected population, about 5 per cent are those with a family history of brain cancers.
  • Infections: Prolonged exposure to EBV, CMV and other infection causing viruses is considered to result in tumour formation in the brain.
  • Electromagnetic fields generated by cell phones and power lines may help tumour development. However, researchers are yet to confirm it.
  • Head Injuries are also linked to the development of tumours in the intracranial region.

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