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Seek Medical Advice Early: Brain Tumours are Treatable

The brain can be broadly divided into the cerebrum, cerebellum, and brainstem. The cerebrum acts as the command centre for body functions and is composed of two oval hemispheres. Each hemisphere consists of four parts: the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe, and occipital lobe, each controlling different bodily functions. When abnormal proliferation occurs in local brain tissue, it can form a tumour, which may be benign or malignant, commonly referred to as brain cancer.


Types of Brain Tumours

If the tumour originates in the brain, it is called a primary brain tumour. If the tumour spreads to the brain from another part of the body, it is referred to as a secondary brain tumour. Among various types of cancers, lung and breast cancers are the most likely to metastasize to the brain.


Benign brain tumours generally do not pose a threat to health if surgically removed. However, even if a small portion remains after removal, it can sometimes proliferate again. If necessary, such recurrent benign tumours can typically be surgically removed once more. Nevertheless, if a benign brain tumour is situated in a critical location, it can still endanger life. On the other hand, primary malignant brain tumours rarely spread to other parts of the body but can invade surrounding normal brain tissue, posing a threat to health.


Brain tumours can primarily be classified into two major categories: benign and malignant. Compared to other cancers, the distinction between benign and malignant brain tumours is not always clear-cut.

Benign Tumours

  • Generally consist of slow-growing cells.

  • Rarely spread.

  • Common types include meningioma, schwannoma, pituitary adenoma, and craniopharyngioma.

Malignant Tumours

  • Cancer cells may spread to other parts of the brain or spine, potentially compressing adjacent brain tissue during their continuous growth, thus threatening life.

  • Different types of malignant tumours may vary significantly in their growth patterns and response to treatment.

  • Some cancer cells are confined to a specific location, while others may extend to surrounding tissues.

  • Usually named after the type of cells where they originated.

  • Common types include astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, ependymoblastoma, and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM).

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The brain is an extremely important organ in the body, and complications from brain tumours can result in severe or permanent effects, causing physical disabilities, comas, or even death.

Causes and Stages of Brain Tumours

The medical community is still unclear about the exact causes of brain tumours. Only a few cases are believed to be associated with congenital, genetic, or chemical factors, making prevention challenging. Some experts suggest that radiation from mobile phones might lead to brain tumours, but this claim requires further research for confirmation.


Factors that may increase the risk of brain tumours include:


  • Age: Although brain tumours can occur at any age, individuals over 40 are at higher risk. Childhood brain cancer typically manifests between the ages of 3 and 12.

  • Gender: Men are more likely to develop brain tumours.

  • Family history: A higher risk exists for individuals with a family history of gliomas.

  • Occupational exposure: Long-term exposure to chemicals or radiation in the workplace increases the risk.

However, some patients may develop brain tumours without any of these risk factors. Brain tumours are staged from I to IV, based on the tumour's growth rate and its ability to invade nearby tissues.

  • Grade I and II (low-grade) tumours grow very slowly.

  • Grade III (intermediate-grade) tumours grow at a moderate rate.

  • Grade IV (high-grade) tumours grow rapidly.

Common Symptoms and Diagnosis of Brain Tumours

Common symptoms of brain tumours include headaches, dizziness, vomiting, blurred vision, and weakness or paralysis in the limbs. Depending on the tumour's location, symptoms may also include seizures, endocrine disorders, and even changes in personality and behaviour.


Decades ago, diagnosing and treating brain tumours was extremely challenging. However, with advancements in imaging and surgical techniques, many patients can now be diagnosed at an earlier stage, significantly improving the cure rate for brain tumours. Modern brain imaging techniques are highly advanced. CT scans and MRIs are the most commonly used diagnostic tools. MRI, which does not involve radiation, requires the patient to lie on a machine with a strong magnetic field for scanning, causing no pain during the process. MRI images can be captured from multiple angles using different methods, providing comprehensive imaging parameters of the tumour. This enables neurosurgeons to develop the most appropriate treatment plan for the patient.

Brain Tumours Are Not Incurable

Treatments for brain tumours primarily include surgery, radiosurgery, or chemotherapy. Doctors will tailor treatment plans according to the individual patient's condition. If the condition is less severe, the chances of cure are higher, and if surgical risks are lower, doctors will aim for a complete cure by thoroughly removing the brain tumour. Some patients may require additional medication or radiation therapy post-surgery to reduce the chances of recurrence.


Modern neurosurgical techniques allow neurosurgeons to perform operations safely and even minimally invasively. Generally, patients do not need to shave their heads for surgery, and recovery time is significantly reduced. For certain types of tumours, such as acoustic neuromas, non-surgical methods like radiosurgery (Gamma Knife, CyberKnife) can be used, offering reliable efficacy with minimal side effects. Chemotherapy utilises cytotoxic drugs to kill cancer cells, sometimes used alone or in combination with radiation therapy.


The brain is a crucial organ, and complications from brain tumours can cause severe or permanent effects, leading to physical impairments, comas, or even death. Damage to different parts of the brain during the tumour or treatment can result in varying degrees of neurological dysfunction, affecting hearing, vision, or limb movement. Therefore, patients may require physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy to help regain some functions. Brain tumours are not incurable; with the emergence of new treatments, early detection and treatment significantly increase the chances of recovery.

Comparison of Benign and Malignant Brain Tumours

Benign Tumours:

  • Characteristics: Account for 60% of primary tumours.

  • Common Types: Meningioma, non-cellular astrocytoma.

  • Growth Rate: Slower.

  • Spread Risk: Lower.

  • Treatment: Surgery.


Malignant Tumours:

  • Characteristics: Account for 40% of primary tumours, with an additional 50% being metastatic tumours.

  • Common Types: Anaplastic astrocytoma, glioblastoma.

  • Growth Rate: Faster.

  • Spread Risk: Higher.

  • Treatment: Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, targeted therapy.

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