What is a brain tumour?
Normally our cells reproduce and repair themselves in a controlled way and do not cause us any problems. However, if this process gets disturbed or disrupted, the cells can begin to grow in an uncontrolled way, creating a lump of cells which form a tumour.
Tumours can grow anywhere in the body, including the brain. A primary brain tumour means that the growth first started in the brain and a secondary brain tumour means that the tumour has spread from elsewhere in the body. A brain or central nervous system (CNS) tumour is usually named according to the type of cell they start to grow from or the part of the brain it grows in.
Brain tumours are graded 1-4, with 1 being the least severe. A slow growing, relatively contained tumour would be graded 1 or 2; however these can still be serious because they may put pressure on and damage nearby areas of the brain due to the limited space within the skull as a whole.
Grades 3-4 are fast growing, high grade tumours that are usually cancerous growths, and are more likely to spread to other areas of the brain. Even if intensive treatment is received it does not mean that the tumour will not recur.
There are some tumours which have a mix of cell types and are therefore graded by the highest grade malignant cell they contain.
No one knows what causes brain tumours and they can be difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can be very similar to other health problems, so may go undetected for some time.
Following diagnosis and treatment some people can suffer with varying degrees of loss of speech; loss of memory; loss of movement; balance; emotional problems and a major problem, fatigue; and this may cause great frustration. Usually speech, movement, balance and to some degree memory can improve over time, but not completely. You have to adapt your lifestyle in order to cope with the fatigue and frustration has to be managed on a day to day basis.
There are two major charities supporting people with brain tumours. They are:
The Brain Tumour Charity which offers support and information, funds scientific and clinical research, raises awareness and influences policy.
Brain Tumour Research which raise funds, raises awareness, funds research and influences policy.
Source: The Brain Tumour Charity