A brain tumour is a mass or growth of abnormal cells inside the cranium (the part of the skull that encases the brain). There are two main groups of brain tumour: primary and metastatic. Tumours that originate from the brain’s tissue or its immediate surroundings are called primary brain tumours. Primary brain tumours can be benign or malignant. Metastatic brain tumours are tumours that originate elsewhere in the body and have spread to the brain. Metastatic brain tumours are considered malignant.
Primary brain tumours
Primary brain tumours can be benign brain tumours or malignant brain tumours.
Benign brain tumours are not cancerous. They are made up of cells that are similar to normal cells. They do not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body. Even though they are not cancerous, benign brain tumours can cause a problem if they involve or compress nerves or brain tissue. There are many types of benign brain tumours including meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannoma (formally known as acoustic neuroma) and hemangioblastomas.
Malignant tumours are made up of cancerous cells. They will usually grow faster than benign tumours, spread into surrounding tissues and may metastasise (spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream or lymph system to form secondary tumours). The most common malignant primary brain tumour is glioblastoma which is a type of glioma (a tumour arising from the glia, the supporting cells of the brain).
Metastatic brain tumours
Metastatic brain tumours originate from cancer elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain and are the most common type of malignant brain tumour. Cancers which are most likely to spread to the brain are melanoma, lung, breast, kidney and bowel.
Symptoms will vary depending on where the tumour is in the brain, however there are several symptoms commonly associated with a brain tumour:
- headaches (these may be more severe in the morning or wake you at night);
- seizures or convulsions;
- personality changes;
- difficulty thinking or speaking;
- vision changes;
- hearing changes such as tinnitus;
- loss of balance or dizziness;
- facial numbness or tingling;
- feeling or being sick;
- difficulty swallowing;
Treatment of a brain tumour will depend on the type of brain tumour, where it is in the brain, the grade of the tumour and your general health and level of fitness.
Initial diagnosis of a brain tumour is usually by CT or MRI scan. These tests can usually help identify the precise location and size of the tumour as well as indicate the most likely type of tumour. Sometimes further imaging or surgery is needed to confirm the type of tumour, for example whether it is fast or slow growing, benign or malignant.
Treatment options for brain tumours include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiosurgery and radiotherapy. Steroids are often used to reduce swelling caused by the tumour. Anti-epileptic medication may be used for seizures.
Brain tumour specialist
Dr Laban is a specialist brain tumour surgeon with expertise in the treatment of benign and malignant brain tumours (metastases, gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary tumours, acoustic neuromas and other primary brain tumours), neurovascular compression syndromes (trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm and glossopharyngeal neuralgia), cavernomas, Chiari malformation and hydrocephalus.
Contact us today to book an appointment and get the diagnosis and help you need.