Every year 8th of June is celebrated as World Brain Tumor Day. This initiative was initially taken by German Brain Tumor Association and is now celebrated worldwide to raise awareness and educate people about the brain tumor. There are lots of myths and misconception about brain tumor among the general population and we take this opportunity to discuss some basic facts.
Brain tumors may originate from neural elements within the brain itself, or they may represent spread of distant cancers from any other organ of the body like lungs, breast, kidney or prostate cancer. Primary brain tumor includes Gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, and acoustic neuromas.
The incidence of central nervous system (CNS) tumors in India ranges from 5 to 10 per 100,000 populations with an increasing trend and accounts for 2% of malignancies
Manifestations of brain tumor may be nonspecific and include the following: a Headache, Altered mental status, Nausea, Vomiting, Weakness, Gait Disturbance, Focal seizures, visual changes, Speech deficits, Focal sensory abnormalities. New onset seizures in adults or a headache associated with weakness or numbness of the limbs indicate more towards brain tumor.
As most of the brain tumor initially present with very nonspecific complaints, early diagnosis by a neurosurgeon or neuro physician helps plan further management in initial stages of the disease. Diagnosis is aided by imaging modalities like CT scan or MRI. Treatment of brain tumor includes maximal safe surgical resection. In some cases of malignant tumors, radiotherapy and oral chemotherapy are administered.
Diagnosis of brain tumor does not always mean a very poor outcome. A lot of CNS tumors are benign and can be cured completely and for life by complete surgical removal. In many cases of malignant tumors also, long-term survival is possible with accurate surgery and other management. Outcome and survival rate depends mostly on the age of the patient, type of tumour, whether it is benign or malignant, and the extent of the surgical excision and molecular characteristics of the tumor. Recent studies on molecular markers have opened newer treatment modalities in brain and spine tumors. Now brain tumors are treated based on the molecular staging of the tumor. Brain tumor surgery is becoming more and safer with the judicious use of stereotaxy, neural monitoring and brain mapping. Stereotactic radiosurgery sometimes can be used in selected cases to manage tumors without any surgery. Rehabilitation and support from friends and family are required for the optimum outcome of the patient in most cases.
Dr. Dilip Dutta
Consultant – Neuro Surgery
Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, Howrah