learn more about brain tumours
Brain tumours can be primary or metastatic.
Primary tumours originate in the cells that make up the various brain structures. They are a varied group of tumours with very different origins, prognosis and treatment, ranging from highly uncommon tumours such as pilocytic astrocytoma, curable with surgery alone, to glioblastoma multiforme, which is virtually incurable despite surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
- Headache is the most common nonspecific symptom, but in many cases its presence does not lead us to suspect a brain tumour.
- Symptoms resulting from increased intracranial pressure, such as drowsiness, can be more indicative of the presence of a glioma.
- There are other more specific signs and symptoms that appear depending on the location of the disease, such as focal signs (loss of strength, difficulty speaking and visual field defects), seizures and haemorrhaging.
- Low-grade I and II gliomas. The factors for a good prognosis are an age less than 40 years, a tumour diameter less than 6 cm, a tumour that does not exceed the midline, the histological type of tumour is oligoastrocytoma and an absence of neurological deficits. Survival for these patients with high-grade tumours varies between 2 and 9 years depending on the prognosis group.
- Gliomas III and IV. The factors for a good prognosis are age (less than 40 years), a good overall condition with autonomy, normal mental state and a complete surgical resection. Survival for these patients with high-grade tumours varies between 2 and 6 years depending on the prognosis group.
There are many types of brain tumours, both malignant and benign.
- Gliomas: there are many types, but the most common are astrocytomas,oligodendrogliomas and glioblastomas. The differences between them can be very complex. An expert pathologist is needed to distinguish them correctly.
- Meningiomas: meningioma is the most common benign brain tumour. It originates from cells in the membranes that surround the brain. It does not grow within the brain, but it compresses the brain.
- Brain metastases: these are the most common brain tumours in adults. Between 20% and 40% of patients with cancer develop a brain metastasis during their disease. The tumour types that most often develop brain metastases are melanoma, pulmonary carcinoma, breast carcinoma and renal carcinoma.
- Pituitary adenomas: these represent 15% of intracranial tumours. Surgery decompresses the structures adjacent to the lesion and restores the function of the pituitary gland.
- Craniopharyngiomas: these congenital tumours originate in the embryonic residues that connect the brain with the pharynx and usually appear just above the pituitary gland.
- CNS lymphomas: primary brain lymphomas are uncommon. They originate from lymphocytes. The average age of presentation is 60 years.
- Schwannomas or neurinomas: these are tumours that originate from Schwann cells, which produce myelin. Except for the optical nerves, all nerves are related to these cells.
- Paraneoplastic neurological syndromes: in some patients with incipient cancer, the body detects the tumour cells and triggers an immune response to eliminate them. Sometimes, this response also attacks the nervous system.
- Neuronal tumours: neuronal tumours (gangliocytomas, central neurocytomas and cerebellar liponeurocytomas) are formed by tumour cells of neuronal origin, most of which are benign. These types of tumours are uncommon.