Environmental toxins (for example, chemicals used in oil refineries, embalming chemicals, rubber industry chemicals)
Brain Cancer Symptoms and Signs
Not all brain tumors cause symptoms, and some (such as tumors of the pituitary gland that cause no symptoms) are found mainly after death, with the death not caused by the brain tumor. The symptoms of brain tumors are numerous and not specific to brain tumors, meaning they can be caused by many other illnesses as well. The only way to know for sure what is causing the symptoms is to undergo diagnostic testing. Early symptoms may not occur; if they do, they occur for the following reasons and are listed below:
The symptoms are caused by the tumor pressing on or encroaching on other parts of the brain and keeping them from functioning normally.
Some symptoms are caused by swelling in the brain primarily caused by the tumor or its surrounding inflammation.
The symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are similar in men, women, and children.
Abnormalities in vision (for example, double vision, loss of peripheral vision)
Difficulty with speech
Gradual changes in intellectual or emotional capacity
In many people, the onset of these symptoms is very gradual and may be overlooked by both the person with the brain tumor and the person's family members, even for long time periods. Occasionally, however, these symptoms appear more rapidly. In some instances, the person acts as if he or she is having a stroke. In some patients, the symptoms may be more pronounced if the cancer is located mainly in a specific brain lobe that is usually responsible for certain body functions. For example, behavioral changes may predominate in frontal-lobe cancers while difficulty with speech or movements may predominate in cancers within the parietal lobe.
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Types of Treatments for Brain Cancer
Treatment of brain cancer is usually complex. Most treatment plans involve several consulting doctors.
The team of doctors includes neurosurgeons (surgical specialists in the brain and nervous system), oncologists, radiation oncologists (doctors who practice radiation therapy), and of course, your primary health-care provider. A patient's team may include a dietitian, a social worker, a physical therapist, and probably other specialists.
The treatment protocols vary widely according to the location of the tumor, its size, grade, and type, the patient's age, and any additional medical problems that the person may have.
The most widely used treatments are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. In some cases, more than one of these treatment types is used.
Most people with a brain tumor undergo surgery.
The purposes of surgery are to confirm that the abnormality seen on the brain scan is indeed a tumor, to assign a grade to the tumor, and to remove the tumor. If the tumor cannot be removed, the surgeon will take a sample of the tumor to identify its type and grade.
In some cases, mostly in benign tumors, symptoms can be completely cured by surgical removal of the tumor. A neurosurgeon will attempt to remove the tumor when possible.
Patients may undergo several treatments and procedures before surgery.
They may be given a steroid drug, such as dexamethasone (Decadron), to relieve swelling.