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Brain Tumour Awareness Day: It’s Not Always Cancerous and Scary

Before you panic, understand that some brain tumours can be dealt with adopting minimally invasive techniques also.

Updated
Cancer
3 min read
Before you panic, understand that some brain tumours can also be dealt with adopting minimally invasive techniques.
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Imagine it’s a normal Day. You are going about your everyday activities. Conducting every possible task with zeal and enthusiasm. Suddenly you suffer from a wave of nausea, which is accompanied by weakness and light-headedness.

This is followed by intense headaches, which occur in bouts and your vision begins to get blurry. Panic sets in, but before the body can decide to fight or go into flight mode, everything clears up and all is back to normal. (You let it go thinking it is probably a one time thing – maybe you did not drink enough water?)

Fast forward to a few weeks later and the same incident occurs. In fact, you notice that the frequency of such ‘attacks’ is increasing. You consult your local physician who is unable to diagnose the condition.

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Brain Tumours Are Not Always Cancerous and Scary

As the headaches increase in frequency along with pain levels, you seek the medical counsel of a neurologist who diagnoses you with a frightening condition – a brain tumour.

Now before you panic, understand that not all brain tumours are cancerous and scary. In fact, they can be dealt with adopting minimally invasive techniques.
Simply put, a brain tumour is a collection of cells which is growing abnormally.
Simply put, a brain tumour is a collection of cells which is growing abnormally.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Simply put, a brain tumour is a collection of cells which is growing abnormally. These tumours are graded on their severity depending on how fast they grow, how life threatening they are and how fast they can re – grow. They are primarily of two kinds:

  • Benign (non-cancerous) tumours: They are low-grade tumours, which generally do not grow back.
  • Malignant (cancerous) tumours: They are the ones to be afraid of. They are life threatening and have a tendency to re – grow.

Potential Causes of Brain Tumour

The exact cause of brain tumours are still unknown, but below are some risk factors, which contribute to their occurrence:

  • Age
  • Family history
  • Any past history of tumours
  • Radiation
For those who love their mobiles – do not worry, brain tumours are not caused if one excessively uses their mobiles.
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Symptoms and Seeking Help

So how does know when to seek help? What are the symptoms that one should not ignore?

  • Persistent headaches: Whenever we talk about headaches, the first symptom, which comes to our mind, is a severe persistent headache especially when associated with vomiting which relieves headache. This is usually the primary signal of brain tumour. If you have been having a headache for more than 4 to 5 days, consult your doctor.
  • Seizures: Seizures are indicative of brain tumours. They happen because of a sudden, abnormal electrical activity in the brain.
  • Progressive weakness or one-sided paralysis: One-sided paralysis is known as hemiplegia. It is extremely frightening and may leave you feeling shocked and confused. Go to your doctor immediately. The earlier you are screened, the better are your chances of beating a tumour.
So how does know when to seek help? What are the symptoms that one should not ignore?
So how does know when to seek help? What are the symptoms that one should not ignore?
(Photo: iStockphoto)
  • Vision or speech problems: A tumour near the optic nerve causes blurred or double vision. It may also cause abnormal eye movements or double vision depending on the exact location and size of the tumour. Some brain tumours may cause speech difficulties.
  • Memory problems or behavioural changes: Brain tumours usually affect cognitive abilities which result in memory problems, concentration problems and may lead to confusion etc. It also changes the way a person behaves. You may find them frustrated at very illogical things.
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These symptoms are ‘indicative’ of a brain tumour, but not establish that you surely ‘have’ one. However even if you have been struggling with a persistent headache, fix an appointment with your doctor, preferably a brain surgeon. If the situation is serious or your family doctor is unable to find clarity, he may suggest you to consult a neurosurgeon.

(Dr Rahul Gupta is the Additional Director, Department of Neuro Surgery, Fortis Hospital, Noida.)

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