An abnormal spontaneous growth of a tissue is known as a tumor. They can be classified into two categories – benign and malignant. While benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body, malignant tumors invade other tissues and body parts. Tumor of the nervous system can develop in spinal cord or brain although spinal cord tumors are very rarely seen. Primary tumors are present at the site of origin while metastatic tumors develop somewhere else from the site of origin. An astonishing number, it is reported that 100,000 people in the USA are diagnosed with a brain tumor every year and the cause of tumor in a majority of cases is unknown.
Types of Tumors in Adults
A brain tumor is not the same as tumors that are present in other organs of the body, spreading to the brain. In adults, secondary brain tumors are actually more common than the primary brain tumor and with their origin being different, they are treated differently.
- Gliomas: This is not a specific type of brain tumor as gliomas is a broad term used for a group of tumors starting in the glial cells. A number of tumors including astrocytomas, glioblastoma, ependymomas and oligodendrogliomas can be considered as Gliomas. This is one of the fast growing brain tumors reported till today!
- Meningiomas: Beginning in meninges, meningioma is a tumor of the brain and spinal cord. The risk of this tumor increases with age and it occurs twice often in women than in men. Sometimes meningiomas run in the family and tend to grow quickly.
- Schwannomas: Schwannomas develops from Schwann cells, which insulate the cranial nerves, and make up for approximately 8% of the nervous system tumors. These are categorized under benign tumors and can arise from the cranial nerve.
Different types of cancers come with diverse risk factors. While some risk factors such as smoking can be changed, others like family history and age can’t be altered. However having risk factors, does not always mean that you will end up with the disease. A majority of brain tumors are not linked with the known risk factors. So just relax!
Know the Sign & Symptoms
Consult a specialist, if you are experiencing these symptoms.
- Loss of appetite.
- Change in activity level.
- Headache accompanied by vomiting.
- Hearing, vision and speech problem.
- Frequent vomiting and feeling of nausea.
- Trouble keeping the steps right.
- Weakness to a great extent.
- Numbness in a specific region.
Diagnosis of a Nerve Tumor
Nervous system tumors are usually found with the help of symptoms a person is experiencing. If you are suspecting a tumor there are few tests that can help you confirm the condition.
- Physical Examination: A physical examination of the body helps check the general signs including anything that seems unnatural.
- Visual field exam: This is an exam undertaken to check the person’s field of vision. Any loss of vision can also sign tumor.
- Neurological exam: A series of questions are asked to check the brain, nerve, and spinal cord function. This is also referred to as neuron exam.
- Imaging tests: Doctor may advise a single imaging test or in combination. Some of the tests use – strong magnets, X-rays, and a radioactive substance.
Neurological Tumor Treatment
It is often hard to treat the neurological tumor without the help of specialists. Consult a team of doctors comprising of a neurologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and endocrinologist.
You can choose to undertake one of the following types of treatment:
- Radiation therapy.
- Targeted therapy.
- Drug based treatment.
It is crucial to discuss all the treatment options with the doctor. Treatment is based on a number of factors, thus make sure you have an open discussion with your doctor!