A brain tumour is a mass which grows within an area of the central nervous system (CNS), including the cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla oblongata and spinal cord.
A tumour of the central nervous system (CNS) starts and develops when healthy cells of the brain or spinal cord change and grow out of control, forming a tumour.
The brain is the centre of thought, memory and emotions, it also controls the five senses: smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight. It is responsible for controlling movement and other basic functions of the body, including heartbeat, circulation and respiration. The spinal cord connects the brain to the nerves in the majority of the parts of the body.
A CNS tumour is especially problematic as it can affect a person’s thought processes and movements. It can also be complicated to treat this type of tumour because the surrounding tissues can be vital to the functioning of the body.
If the mass originates in the brain itself it is called a primary tumour, whilst a secondary tumour is one which stems from another part of the body, usually the lung or breast, and which has spread to the brain over time.
A brain tumour is not always cancerous (malignant), it can also be benign.
‚óŹ A malignant tumour means it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A malignant tumour grows rapidly and often invades nearby healthy areas of the brain.
‚óŹ A benign tumour can grow, but will not spread. Benign brain and spinal cord tumours grow slowly and cause pressure in the nearby areas of the brain. Very rarely they spread to other tissues and may recur.
Often, tumours which are found in the brain begin in another part of the body and spread to the brain. These are called metastatic brain tumours, they are more common than primary brain tumours.
The cause of primary brain tumours is unknown; environmental and genetic factors may be the cause of some of them.
Brain tumours cause neurological signs and symptoms which vary according to their location.
As a result fast-growing tumours present clinical manifestations long before slow-growing ones.
Symptoms are divided between focal and generalised.
‚óŹ Focal (local) symptoms include seizures, paresis (paralysis), aphasia (difficulty understanding and expressing language), apraxia (inability to perform movements), agnosia (memory impairment), cranial nerve (nerves directly from the brain) involvement, etc. These focal symptoms are caused by the tumour and also by the oedema (fluid, swelling) which surrounds the tumour (peritumoral).
‚óŹ Generalised symptoms are attributable to an increase in intracranial pressure. Intracranial hypertension can be caused by the tumour itself, by oedema around the tumour, by obstruction of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in which the central nervous system is immersed, by obstruction of the cerebral venous system, or by a block in CSF reabsorption. These generalised symptoms include psychiatric disorders, headaches, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, generalised seizures and papilloedema (fluid in the back of the eye). It is also common to notice changes in personality, and to suffer from headaches (sometimes at night or first thing in the morning) and nausea or dizziness in the initial stages.
Treatment of brain cancer depends on the type, grade, extent and location of the tumour
There are various treatments for brain tumours. The type of treatment recommended depends on the size and type of tumour, its speed of growth, its situation in the brain and the general health of the patient.
Treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy, targeted biological agents, or a combination of these. Surgical resection (if not dangerous) is generally the first recommended treatment, to rapidly reduce pressure in the brain.
In the past two decades researchers have developed new techniques to administer radiation to the brain tumour whilst protecting surrounding healthy tissue.
With conventional radiotherapy, X-ray beams cross healthy as well as cancerous tissue, destroying everything which falls into the path of the beam. Cancerous tissues are damaged, although so is surrounding healthy tissue. As a result, doctors must limit the dose of traditional radiation with the aim of reducing to a minimum the damaging effects on normal tissue close to the tumour.
Proton beam therapy, a breakthrough in radiotherapy.
However, there is now a new type of radiation called proton therapy. This uses beams of particles (protons) which are more accurately applied to cancerous tumours to eliminate them, including difficult-to-reach tumours which are near or within vital areas, or those which are situated in sensitive areas of the body.
The advantage of a href=”https://www.hcmarbella.com/en/new-horizons-in-the-treatment-of-breast-cancer/”>proton therapy is that it allows the application of high doses of radiation directly to the tumour, with little damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This is especially important when treating areas close to vital organs, such as the lungs, or tumours close to the eye, brain or oesophagus, and also when treating cancer in children, whose bodies are still growing and developing.
The application only takes the few minutes required to administer a high dose of radiation and involves a minimal number of treatment sessions.
This was one of the reasons that Dr. Hernan Cortes-Funes, Head of the Oncology Unit at HC Marbella, recommended proton treatment at a specialist centre in the Czech Republic to the parents of Ashya King, who was suffering from a brain tumour, with the result that he is recurrence free, two years after receiving treatment.
At HC Marbella we are currently putting all our effort into developing a project to launch a #Proton Unit in Spain, in Marbella.
Consult us about your case or that of your loved one. In Spain, our Oncologists and Specialist Consultants are leaders in their field, and recognised throughout Europe. They work in multidisciplinary committees offering you a comprehensive team, dedicated to obtaining the best results.