Brain Tumors – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Brain tumor is a disease that arises due to the growth of abnormal tissue in the brain. Depending on the type, there are brain tumors that are benign or malignant.

The appearance of tumors in the brain can come from the brain tissue itself (or called primary brain tumors), it can also come from cancer in other organs that spreads to the brain (secondary brain tumors). This article will discuss tumors that originate from the brain’s own tissue.

Symptoms of Brain Tumor

Symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on the type. Symptoms that appear are influenced by the size, speed of growth, and location of the tumor. Small brain tumors often do not cause symptoms. As a brain tumor develops, symptoms such as headaches, nervous breakdowns, or seizures may appear .

Causes of Brain Tumors

The growth of brain tumors is caused by genetic changes or mutations in brain cells. The cause of this genetic change is still unknown. However, there are several factors that can increase a person’s risk of developing a brain tumor, namely:

  • Age
  • Descendants
  • Have you ever had radiotherapy?

Brain Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment

The doctor will perform a neurological examination and imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI of the brain to look for a brain tumor. Then the doctor will determine the type of brain tumor through a tumor biopsy, which is taking a sample of tumor tissue to be examined under a microscope. Determining the type of tumor will help the doctor to estimate the severity of the disease and plan treatment.

Patients with brain tumors, both benign and malignant tumors, can undergo treatment with radiotherapy, chemotherapy, or surgery (one of them is gamma ray surgery). After brain tumor treatment, patients can undergo physiotherapy to speed up the recovery process.

Symptoms of Brain Tumor

Symptoms of brain tumors vary widely and depend on the location, size, and growth rate of the tumor itself. Tumors that grow slowly at first may not cause symptoms. New symptoms are felt after the tumor presses on the brain and interferes with the work of certain parts of the brain.

Here are some of the symptoms of neurological disorders that can signal a brain tumor:

  • Loss of coordination function, such as difficulty walking and controlling movement, difficulty speaking, and constant eye blinking.
  • Disorders of five sensory functions, such as visual impairment and loss of function
  • Facial muscles are paralyzed.
  • Dysphagia .
  • The body feels weak or experiences numbness.
  • Have memory problems, such as amnesia.

When to go to the doctor

Immediately see a doctor if you experience symptoms of neurological disorders, especially symptoms that persist and continue.

In addition to causing neurological disorders, brain tumors can cause increased pressure inside the head. This condition can be dangerous if not treated immediately. Some of the symptoms that can be a sign of increased pressure in the brain cavity are:

  • Great headache
  • Gag
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizure

Causes of Brain Tumors

There are brain tumors that come from the brain tissue itself (primary brain tumors), there are also those from tumors in other organs that spread to the brain (secondary brain tumors).

Primary brain tumors occur as a result of genetic changes in cells in brain tissue, which cause these cells to grow uncontrollably. The cause of this genetic change itself is not known with certainty.

Even so, there are several factors that are thought to increase a person’s risk of developing a brain tumor, including:

  • Radiation exposure
    People who are frequently exposed to radiation have a higher risk of developing brain tumors, especially radiation from radiotherapy devices for cancer treatment.
  • Age
    Depends on the type of brain tumor. There are several types of brain tumors, such as medulloblastoma or germ cell tumors , which are more common in children.
  • eturunan
    The risk of brain tumor was higher in people whose family members have experienced a brain tumor.
  • Gene disorders of conduct
    Some genetic disorders can increase the risk of brain tumors, among others, the disease neurofibromatosis type 1 and 2, Turcot syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Gorlin syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis.

While secondary brain tumors, occur due to cancer cells from other parts of the body that spread (metastasize) to brain tissue. The following are some types of cancer that can cause secondary brain tumors:

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer Kanker
  • Kidney cancer
  • Melanoma skin cancer

Brain Tumor Diagnosis

After asking the patient’s history of symptoms and general health, the doctor will perform a physical examination, especially a neurological examination (neurological). Neurological examinations performed include:

  • Hearing and vision examination
  • Check balance and body coordination
  • Examination of the facial nerve (eg, the patient is asked to smile or grin)
  • Reflex check
  • Muscle strength check
  • Skin sensitivity check

To see if there is a tumor in the brain, the doctor will perform further tests in the form of:

  • CT
    CT scan is done with the aid of X-rays to get a picture of the inside of the brain clearly.
  • MRI
    purpose of an MRI is the same as for a CT scan. But in an MRI, the scan is done with a strong magnetic field and radio waves.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan
    PET scan is a scanning procedure with nuclear media, which is done to check the spread of tumors throughout the body.

If a tumor is present, a biopsy or brain tissue sampling will be performed to determine the type of tumor and appropriate treatment.

Levels of Brain Tumors

In addition to confirming the presence of a brain tumor, the examination is also done to determine the grade of the tumor. By knowing the grade of the tumor, the doctor can determine whether the tumor is benign or malignant, its severity, and the treatment that will be given.

Based on their character, the types of brain tumors are grouped into several levels, namely:

  • Grade 1
    Brain tumors Grade 1 is a brain tumor that is benign, does not penetrate the brain tissue around the tumor and grows slowly. Examples of grade 1 brain tumors are ganglioglioma, gangliocytoma , craniopharyngoma , and pilocytic astrocytoma .
  • Grade 2
    Brain tumor grade 2 is a brain tumor that is still benign, with slow growth, but can penetrate the brain tissue around the tumor. Examples of grade 2 brain tumors are pineocytoma and oligodendroglioma .
  • Grade 3
    Brain tumor grade 3 is a malignant tumor because it penetrates the surrounding brain tissue. An example of a grade 3 brain tumor is an ependymoma .
  • Grade 4
    Brain tumors Grade 4 is the most malignant brain tumor , very aggressively penetrate the brain tissue, and grow rapidly. Examples of level 4 brain tumor is pineoblastoma , medul oblastoma , and ependymoblastoma.

Brain Tumor Treatment

Treatment of a brain tumor depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor. The patient’s general health condition will also be considered in determining the appropriate type of treatment. Here are some types of treatment in cases of brain tumors:


Radiotherapy aims to shrink the size of the tumor, by killing tumor cells using radiation energy. Radiation beams can be generated by a special device outside the body (external radiation) or placed near the tumor site (brachytherapy). There is also a radiotherapy technique called radiosurgery (gamma knife surgery), with higher energy but more targeted.


Chemotherapy is done to kill tumor cells using drugs that can be given in the form of tablets or injections. Some examples of drugs used for chemotherapy are temozol om ide and vincristine.

Chemotherapy can be combined with radiotherapy so that tumor cells can be eradicated to the maximum.

Tumor removal surgery

Surgery aims to remove as much tumor tissue as possible without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue. This procedure requires the process of shaving the hair before perforating the part that has the tumor. Anesthesia will be performed before this process is performed.

To help overcome the symptoms caused by the tumor, people with brain tumors will be given drugs before and after undergoing tumor treatment. Examples of drugs given are:

  • Anticonvulsants to treat
  • Corticosteroids to reduce brain swelling.
  • Pain reliever for headaches.
  • Medicines to reduce nausea and vomiting.


After undergoing brain tumor surgery, patients will need adjustments in various daily activities, for example:

  • Driving
    Patients should not drive until permitted by the treating neurologist. The neurologist will assess whether or not the patient is able to drive based on the symptoms experienced, the grade of the brain tumor, the location of the tumor, and the type of treatment administered.
  • Work
    Patients will feel more easily tired after undergoing brain tumor treatment. Depending on the type of work, sufferers may be advised to work part-time first, before being ready to work full-time.
  • Having sex
    Sex can be done after the doctor says it is safe to do. Especially for women, it is recommended to continue using contraception for 6 months to a year after chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
  • Exercising
    Patients need to get approval from a doctor if they want to start exercising again. Patients are not allowed to do sports that involve physical contact or swimming without supervision, for at least one year after treatment.

To help speed up the recovery process, patients will be advised to follow a physiotherapy program . This physiotherapy program aims to:

  • Restore muscle strength and motor skills
  • Enable the patient to perform daily activities independently
  • Overcome speech or swallowing disorders
  • Restore memory and thinking ability

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