Clumsiness: Loss Of Balance And Coordination
Loss of balance, lack of coordination in the limbs, trouble swallowing, and numbness or weakness in one side of the body can be because of brain tumors.
If you are finding it difficult to maintain your balance while walking or having difficulty coordinating your hands and legs, it might be a symptom of brain tumor. This might be caused by a tumor in the cerebellum, the primary motor cortex, or the parietal lobe, all of which are responsible in different ways for the coordination of movements. A brain stem tumor that affects hearing can also contribute to loss of balance.
If your clumsiness can be attributed to numbness or weakness in one side of your body, it might be caused by a tumor in the parietal lobe. As the brain stem and the frontal lobe control muscular movements related to swallowing and speaking, respectively, patients also have trouble with these activities if they get tumors in these areas.
Meningioma Symptoms Depend On Their Size And Location
Meningiomas present with typical brain tumor symptoms such as headaches, vision problems or seizures. A headache–even a severe one–on its own is seldom a symptom of meningioma or any other brain tumor.
Larger meningiomas can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in hydrocephalus which can affect gait and memory. Other tumor locations can affect your sense of smell, vision, hearing or even the function of your pituitary gland.
Speech And Language Difficulties
Its important to remember that not everybody who is affected by a brain tumour will experience speech and language difficulties. 1 in 5 people we spoke to experienced communication difficulties caused by a brain tumour.
For those that do, the symptoms and severity can differ from person to person, so you may not have the same problems as someone with a similar diagnosis and treatment plan.
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Living With A Brain Tumour
Living with a brain tumour is not easy. You may feel worried and anxious about what’s going to happen to you and your family. This is perfectly normal.
It can help to seek accurate medical information about your specific tumour and its treatment, make sure you’re closely involved in decisions about your care, and ask your care team about anything you’re not sure about.
You can read more about living with a brain tumour on The Brain Tumour Charity’s website.
Your doctor may be able to refer you to a counsellor if you want to talk about the emotional aspects of diagnosis and treatment. There are also many organisations and helplines that can help, such as The Brain Tumour Charity and Brain Tumour Research.
Coping With A Brain Tumor
Coping with a brain tumor can be difficult. Brain tumor symptoms and side effects from treatment can include headaches, seizures, and changes in mental function, mood, strength, speech and more. Primary brain tumors represent less than 2% of estimated new cancer cases in 2016. At MD Andersons Anne C. Brooks Brain and Spine Center, we have an entire multidisciplinary team dedicated specifically to treating these rare tumors.
Below, Ive answered eight questions about coping with a brain tumor that I often hear from my brain tumor patients. Keep in mind that you should always talk to your care team to receive specific medical advice for your unique tumor.
What side effects can I expect during chemotherapy?
Side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy drug used. One of the most common drugs used for brain tumors is temozolomide, also known as Temodar. This oral chemotherapy is most commonly associated with nausea, constipation and fatigue. Temozolomide also may deplete important blood cells. This is why your doctor will check your blood regularly during treatment.
What diet should brain tumor patients follow during treatment?
What are the symptoms of a seizure?
What should I do if my loved one has a seizure?
Clear the area of potentially harmful objects and stay with your loved one throughout the seizure. Most seizures dont last long. Call 911 if the seizure is generalized and lasts more than 5 minutes.
What are some of the earliest symptoms of brain metastasis?
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Personality And Behavior Changes
Brain tumors can cause a number of symptoms that present as or overlap mental health disorders. They often look like significant changes in the patients personality, behavior, mood and/or thinking. If untreated, these symptoms, also known as neuropsychiatric symptoms, can cause distress for the patient and their loved ones.
Changes in personality and behavior are one of the most challenging symptoms for caregivers to live with. Someone who was once driven and motivated before a brain tumor diagnosis can now be passive and inhibited. Or someone who was once described as sweet and kind could become irritable and controlling. Loved ones can feel frustration or sense of loss for the person they knew before.
Other examples of neuropsychiatric symptoms include aggression, delusion, hallucination, impulsivity, mania, paranoia, psychosis, and violent behavior. In extreme cases, these changes can lead to situations in which the person, their caregiver, loved ones or others are placed at risk.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms related to a brain tumor can have several causes, including tumor location, injury caused by the tumor, age, general health, the psychological and emotional effects of brain tumors, and other health issues.
How to handle personality changes
The following are tools to help navigate such changes:
How Are Cns Tumors Diagnosed
If you are suspected of having a brain or spinal cord tumor, your doctor will perform a neurologic exam and may order a variety of tests based on your symptoms, personal and family medical history, and results of the physical exam. Once a tumor is found on diagnostic imaging studies, surgery to obtain tissue for a biopsy or removal is often recommended. Diagnosing the type of brain or spinal cord tumor is often difficult. Some tumor types are rare and the molecular and genetic alterations of some tumors are not well understood. You may want to ask your primary care doctor or oncologist for a second opinion from a comprehensive cancer center or neuro-oncologist with experience treating your diagnosis or tumor type. Even a second opinion that confirms the original diagnosis can be reassuring and help you better prepare for your care and treatment.
A neurological exam
A neurological exam can be done in your doctors office. It assesses your movement and sensory skills, hearing and speech, reflexes, vision, coordination and balance, mental status, and changes in mood or behavior.
Some advanced tests are performed and analyzed by a specialist.
Diagnostic imaging produces extremely detailed views of structures inside the body, including tissues, organs, bones, and nerves. Such imaging can confirm the diagnosis and help doctors determine the tumor’s type, treatment options, and later, whether the treatment is working.
Laboratory and other tests
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Who Gets Brain Tumors
Most brain tumors develop in people over the age of 50. If you have a family history of brain tumors or your brain has been exposed to radiation, say, during radiotherapy, you might be at higher risk.
Genetic conditions like neurofibromatosis, Turcot syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni cancer syndrome, and Gorlin syndrome are associated with brain tumors that tend to develop in early adulthood or childhood.
Malignant brain tumors usually seem to develop when cancer from some other part of the body spreads to the brain. And, sometimes, benign brain tumors can also turn malignant.13
Benign And Malignant Brain Tumors
Brain tumors can be benign or malignant . The main difference is that benign brain tumors tend to grow more slowly than malignant brain tumors, and malignant tumors are more likely than benign tumors to recur after they have been removed. The symptoms of benign and malignant tumors are very similar.
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Fatigue: Despite Extra Sleep
You may feel more sleepy than usual but even extra sleep might not cure you of the fatigue and lethargy you feel.
You may experience extreme weariness of the body. It could be because of the seizures, headache, or nausea or because your body is using up most of its energy in fighting the tumor. Also, as the tumor makes simple everyday tasks a challenge, the extra amount of concentration and effort you need to put in everything may tire you out.
This sense of fatigue is often not cured by sleep or rest, even though as the tumor grows, you might be sleeping more than usual or falling asleep during the day. The tiredness is often accompanied by apathy, irritability, depression, or negative feelings about yourself and others.11
Abnormal Physiological Changes: Large Limbs And Irregular Periods
If your hands and feet are suddenly getting larger, even after youve crossed the growth years, scan for a pituitary tumor.
A tumor in the pituitary gland can cause irregular periods, excessive production of breast milk, development of breasts in men, and excessive body hair. It may also lead to the enlargement of your hands and feet, obesity, and changes in your blood pressure.12 A drooping eyelid or a drooping mouth can indicate a tumor in the brain stem.
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Brain Tumor Stats From The National Brain Tumor Society:
- An estimated 700,000 Americans are living with a primary brain tumor
- Approximately 88,970 people will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor in 2022
- 70,000-170,000 cancer patients are diagnosed with secondary brain tumors each year
- Approximately 58% of brain tumors occur in females, 42% in males
- Approximately 71% of brain tumors are benign, 29% are malignant
- There are more than 100 types of primary brain tumors
Alternative And Complementary Approaches
Alternative and complementary approaches may help tumor patients better cope with their diagnosis and treatment. Some of these therapies, however, may be harmful if used during or after cancer treatment and should be discussed in advance with a doctor. Common approaches include nutritional and herbal supplements, vitamins, special diets, and mental or physical techniques to reduce stress.
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Aphasia From Brain Tumor
Although aphasia typically results from a stroke or brain injury, brain tumors can also cause aphasia. A brain tumor is a mass of cells that grows in the brain. Brain tumors can either be benign or malignant . A tumor can cause aphasia if it impacts the brains language centers. Aphasia due to cancer is called neoplastic aphasia.
Although brain tumors are not as common as strokes, about 30-50% of people with brain tumors experience aphasia. This is higher than the rate of people who experience aphasia following a stroke.
As with aphasia from other causes, the specific impairments will vary from one person to another. Impairments are impacted by the location, size, and grade of the tumor as well as the age of person. Aphasia due to brain tumor appears to be similar to aphasia due to stroke. However, there is not a lot of research on aphasia due to brain tumor and the similarities and differences to aphasia from other causes.
The most common type of aphasia due to brain tumor is anomic aphasia. Aphasia due to brain tumors is more likely to be short-term and more mild than post-stroke aphasia. The outcome and prognosis for cancer-related aphasia is also dependent on the success of the medical treatment. If the tumor is treated successfully, the aphasia is likely to resolve.
What Is A Brain Tumor
Normal cells grow in a controlled manner as new cells replace old or damaged ones. For reasons not fully understood, tumor cells reproduce uncontrollably.
A primary brain tumor is an abnormal growth that starts in the brain and usually does not spread to other parts of the body. Primary brain tumors may be benign or malignant.
A benign brain tumor grows slowly, has distinct boundaries, and rarely spreads. Although its cells are not malignant, benign tumors can be life threatening if located in a vital area. A malignant brain tumor grows quickly, has irregular boundaries, and spreads to nearby brain areas. Although they are often called brain cancer, malignant brain tumors do not fit the definition of cancer because they do not spread to organs outside the brain and spine.
Metastatic brain tumors begin as cancer elsewhere in the body and spread to the brain. They form when cancer cells are carried in the blood stream. The most common cancers that spread to the brain are lung and breast.
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S Of The Brain Involved In Speech
In recent decades, there has been an explosion of research into language processing in the brain. Its now generally accepted that the control of speech is part of a complex network in the brain.
The formation of speech requires many different processes, from putting thoughts into words, forming a comprehensible sentence, and then actually making the mouth move to make the correct sounds.
There are several areas of the brain known to play a role in speech:
Clinical Trials For Possible Treatments
Boockvar has been leading clinical trials to try devise better treatments for glioblastoma. Sometimes chemotherapy seems ineffective against brain cancer because it cant get past the blood brain barrier, which humans have to protect their brains. So hes examining a way to bypass it by using pericranium tissue, which lays under the scalp but above the skull. It doesnt have a blood brain barrier, but it does have a blood supply. With this procedure, doctors remove the tumor and use the peri-cranial tissue in the cavity, hoping that it will integrate itself in the brain tissue. If successful, chemotherapy could get directly into the former tumor site in the brain.
materials that were given either by mouth or by vein, chemotherapy, that would have a better chance of getting into this area of the brain, Boockvar said.
Bruce is one of the first patients in the stage 1 clinical trial that is looking at whether the procedure can be safely done.
It is safe, Boockvar said. is really important because one of the things that people were afraid of is Im putting in the brain this tissue that is highly vascular and tumors like highly vascular things. So would the tumor grow faster by putting in this tissue flap? And we can unequivocally say no, the tumor does not.
The second clinical trial that Bruce participated in uses microcatheters often used in coronary angiograms to direct a huge dose of a drug thats effective against glioblastoma.
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Warning Signs And Symptoms Of Brain Tumors You Should Know
A brain tumor may sound like a scary, even devastating possibility. Basically a growth of abnormal cells in your brain, a brain tumor can be benign that is, without cancer cells or malignant with cancer cells. Understanding brain tumor symptoms early can mean a better shot at a positive outcome.
Around 130 types of brain tumors have been identified till date.
But to understand brain tumor symptoms, you need to know the location of the tumor too. A tumor forms when cells divide abnormally and rapidly. As the neurons in your brain cannot divide, you never get a nerve cell tumor. But the cells in the meninges , the glial cells surrounding the neurons, and the cells in the pituitary and pineal glands do.
Another way you could get brain tumors is when tumors in other parts of the body start spreading and travel to the brain.
Brain tumor symptoms are caused by their location or the pressure they put on the brain. Which is why symptoms vary from one patient to another.
Your skull has limited space as it cannot expand. And any tumor, big or small, will increase the pressure inside the cranium and on the brain. Symptoms caused by brain tumors are either due to this pressure, medically known as intracranial pressure or ICP, or their location.
Since different parts of the brain control different body parts and their functions, the symptoms of brain tumor also differ widely depending on the location. Common brain tumor symptoms are:
How Are Brain And Spinal Cord Tumors Treated
A specialized team of doctors advises and assists individuals throughout treatment and rehabilitation. These doctors may include:
- A neuro-oncologist is a neurologist or oncologist who specializes in CNS tumors.
- An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in cancer.
- A neurologist is a doctor who specializes in CNS disorders.
- A neuroradiologist is a doctor who specializes in the CNS and is trained in reading diagnostic imaging results.
- A pathologist is a clinical doctor who diagnoses diseases of tissues or cells using a variety of laboratory tests.
- A neurosurgeon is a brain or spinal cord surgeon. Specialized training in removal of central nervous system tumors may have been completed.
- A radiation oncologist is a doctor who specializes in using radiation to treat cancer.
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Your health care team will recommend a treatment plan based on the tumor’s location, type, size and aggressiveness, as well as medical history, age, and general health. Malignant tumors require some form of treatment, while some small benign tumors may need only monitoring. Treatment for a brain or spinal tumor can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of treatments.Initial treatment for a CNS tumor may involve a variety of drugs to treat or ease symptoms, including:
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Symptoms Of Increased Pressure Inside The Skull
A tumour can increase the pressure inside the skull. This is called raised intracranial pressure. It can be caused by the size of the tumour, or because the tumour is blocking the flow of fluid in the brain.
The most common symptoms of this are headaches, feeling sick and vomiting.
The headache may be worse in the morning or get worse when you cough, sneeze or bend down. Increased pressure can also cause symptoms, such as changes to your sight, feeling confused or problems with your balance.