Brain cancer is a very difficult cancer. It is typically hard to detect and not usually found until some form of motor skills are affected. These tumors have the capacity to grow fast and spread in an aggressive manner, which is known as metastasis. They grow out of control and push out normal healthy cells with devastating effects. Brain tumors are difficult mainly because of the brain tissue they are around. Other types of cancer are much more easily removed and can be accessed much easier than going through your skull and operating around your brain tissue (which can be easily damaged from the procedure). Data shows that the incidence of brain cancer due to metastasis is around 25% of all brain cancers.
Certain symptoms could be indicative of brain cancer. They are chronic headaches, weakness, difficulty in walking, seizures, clumsiness in actions, reduced memory or concentration, nausea and vomiting, vision defects, speech difficulty and other motor skill difficulties. Brain cancer treatment is typically individual-specific. The physician would take into consider the age and general health condition of the patient, along with the size, type and location of the tumor. Brain cancer treatment involves consultation with several specialists like neurosurgeons, oncologists, radiologists, dieticians, and physiotherapists, apart from the primary physician.
Brain cancer treatment is normally done by surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy or a combination of these three methods. A benign tumor could safely be removed by surgery. A modern method of surgery, which is a knifeless technology, is training of high-energy radiation from different angles on the tumor. The recovery time is much shorter in this 'gamma knife' surgery. However, before the surgery is done, the doctor might prescribe a steroid medication to relieve swelling or an anticonvulsant drug to prevent or reduce seizures.
Radiation therapy could be of two types, external and internal. In external therapy, the brain tumor is targeted with high-energy radiation beams. This treatment is given for a few minutes for 5 days a week and for 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the size and type of tumor. Internal radiation is done by implanting a small radioactive capsule inside the tumor. This treatment might take several weeks and would require hospitalization for that period.
Chemotherapy is the administration of a powerful drug or a combination of such drugs to kill tumor cells. Chemotherapy is normally done in 2 to 4 cycles of treatment, each cycle consisting of a short period of intense medication with enough rest and recovery period after that. However, chemotherapy is not suitable for most brain cancer patients, because very few chemotherapies cross the blood brain barrier so it is useless to give them, and the stronger the medications the more side effects that will cause other consequences and effects on the body. .
Even after undergoing brain cancer treatment, regular follow-up tests and checkups are needed to make sure that there is no recurrence of brain cancer. The physician would also watch the long-term effect of the treatment for corrective action, if needed. The success rate is typically less than 10%.