World Brain Tumour Day is observed on June 8 every year to increase awareness and educate the public about brain tumours.
Brain tumours are abnormal growths that develop within the brain or its surrounding structures. They can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). The prevalence of brain tumours in India is a growing matter of concern.
“Almost 40,000 new cases of brain tumours are diagnosed each year in the country. Prevention of brain tumours is challenging as most cases are not associated with identifiable risk factors,” Dr Amit Shrivastava, Director & Senior Consultant – Neurology at Dharamshila Narayana Superspeciality Hospital, told IANS.
Thus, “early detection is vital, opening treatment options and improving prognosis. Regular check-ups, advanced imaging, and awareness enhance early detection. Empowering individuals for intervention leads to better outcomes and survival rates”, added Dr P.N. Renjen, Senior Consultant, Neurology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals.
Signs and symptoms of a brain tumour vary depending on the tumour`s location, size and type. Some small tumours don`t show any symptoms until they grow big and can be found incidentally while doing brain imaging for some other reasons.
The symptoms include headaches that may be more severe in the morning or wake you up at night, seizures, or difficulty in thinking, speaking or understanding language.
Other symptoms include personality changes, weakness or paralysis in one part or one side of your body, balance problems or dizziness, vision issues, hearing issues, facial numbness or tingling, nausea or vomiting, confusion and disorientation.
“Only about one-third of brain tumours are cancerous. But whether they`re cancerous or not, brain tumours can impact brain function and your health if they grow large enough to press on surrounding nerves, blood vessels and tissue,” Dr Vivek Agrawal, Department of Neurosurgery, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, told IANS.
“Unfortunately brain tumours are not preventable but early diagnosis and treatment help to achieve cure or morbidity-free survival,” he added.
While prevention is challenging, Dr Shrivastava said adopting a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding exposure to environmental toxins, may contribute to overall brain health.
It is also crucial to protect the head from injuries, as some traumatic brain injuries can increase the risk of tumour development, he said.
“Brain tumours are diverse, requiring an understanding of their types for accurate diagnosis and effective treatments. Knowing the causes improves prevention and patient care. Unravelling the intricacies brings hope to those affected,” Dr Renjen told IANS.
He also vouched for personalised medicine, which recognises each patient`s uniqueness.
“Considering genetics, tumour characteristics, and individual factors tailors treatment for maximum effectiveness and minimal side effects. Genomic profiling, imaging, and targeted therapies offer hope for precise and transformative brain tumour treatments,” he said.