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A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the brain. There are several types of brain tumors: it can be a benign tumor (non-cancerous) or malignant tumor (cancerous). The brain tumor can also be classified as primary brain cancer (origin in the brain) or a secondary brain tumor (has spread from another part of the body to the brain). 

The symptoms and rate at which the brain tumor grows depend on the type of tumor and its location. 

Common symptoms of Brain Tumor

A patient with a brain tumor may experience a variety of symptoms. Some common brain tumor symptoms are - 

  • Headache 

The patient frequently complains of headaches that worsen over time. This is a very common symptom that affects almost 50% of people diagnosed with brain tumors. The tumor is a mass of abnormal cells that can put pressure on the nerves and blood vessels in the brain, causing a patient to experience a change in the pattern of headaches, or they complain of increasing pain in the head. They may also feel - 

  • There is persistent pain, but not due to a migraine.

  • The pain is at its peak early in the morning (after waking up from sleep)

  • Some neurological problems

  • Over the counter pain-killers don’t help relieve the pain.

  • It increases with exercise or coughing.

  • Seizures 

The brain tumor can put pressure on the nerve cells of the brain, which may result in delayed or hindered electrical signals that lead to seizures. Usually, a seizure is one of the first symptoms that is observed by patients with brain tumors. Almost 50% of patients have experienced at least one seizure before getting diagnosed with brain cancer. 

  • Personality Changes/Mood swings

Due to the pressure on the nerves in the brain, the patient may experience changes in their personality or have indifferent mood swings. Some examples can be - 

  • The patient will become irritable

  • A passive attitude towards everyday activities.

  • Unexplained mood swings- from being happy to argumentative or vice versa.

These symptoms usually occur when the tumor is in the cerebrum, frontal, or temporal parts of the brain. 

  • Memory loss and confusion

Memory problems are common with tumors in the frontal or temporal lobes of the brain. A tumor of the parietal lobe can also affect the decision-making capabilities of the patient - 

  • It becomes hard to concentrate, gets easily distracted

  • Short term memory loss

  • Unable to multi-task, difficulty in event planning

  • Confusion about simple matters

These symptoms can be observed at any stage of the tumor, and also during the chemotherapy or radiotherapy during the treatment.

  • Nausea and vomiting -  

The patient might present with nausea and vomiting as an effect on the tumor in the brain. This is generally due to the hormonal imbalance and the pressure the tumor is exerting on the nerves. 

These symptoms can also be noticed during the treatment phases.

  • Weakness -

The body shows symptoms of weakness. This happens as the brain is fighting cancer. This is one of the early symptoms of brain tumor. Generally, if the weakness is localized to one side of the body, it helps the doctor identify the specific brain area that might be affected due to the tumor. 

  • Depression -

Depression is one of the most common symptoms observed by the patient with a brain tumor and their caregivers. This is accompanied by - 

  • Feelings of sadness

  • Loss of concentration and sense of joy

  • Suicidal tendencies

  • A feeling of guilt or worthlessness

There can be some local symptoms associated with brain tumors, depending on their specific locations - 

  • Having trouble with movement in the hands, feet, arms, or difficulty in walking. This could result from a tumor in the cerebellum/frontal lobe

  • Vision and hearing problems may happen due to a tumor in the pituitary gland, optic nerve, frontal lobe, temporal lobe

  • Speech, reading or writing difficulties when the tumor is located in the temporal or parietal lobe

Treatment of brain tumor

There a multiple factors which define the treatment protocol for a brain tumor patient. These include - 

  • Size, type, and grade of the tumor

  • Location of the tumor in the brain

  • Whether it has spread outside the Central Nervous System 

  • Adverse effects with the tumor

Brain tumor treatment in India includes - 

  • Surgery

  • Radiation therapy

  • Chemotherapy 

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