Brain tumor among all types of malignancy is the most complex because of its location in the brain. Glioma is one such brain malignancy that occurs in the brain and spinal cord. Glioma begins in the supportive cells called glial cells that surround the nerves. Glial cells are differentiated into 3 types which include astrocytoma, ependymoma, oligodendroglioma. Glioma can arise from any of these types.
Gliomas are primary tumor of brain. Secondary brain tumors are those that begin in other part of the body and spread to the brain. This secondary brain tumor is also called metastatic tumor.At least 80 percent of brain tumors are primary tumors, mainly gliomas.
The exact cause of glioma is not known, but inheritance and environmental factors such as exposure to radiation and chemicals is blamed. The main symptoms include headache, memory loss, paralysis, vision problems, urinary incontinence, speech difficulty, seizure etc. Treatment consists of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Glioma
Glioma is a brain tumor originating from the glial cells of the brain. These cells are gluey cells that cover and protect the nerves cells. It is a primary tumor. Glioma is a malignant tumor.It infiltrates the surrounding structures. The exact cause of glioma is not known, but there are few factors that can increase the risk for development of glioma. These factors are as follows:
- Glioma usually occurs in older people. People between the ages of 60 to 80 are more at risk of suffering from this type of brain tumor.
- Radiation exposure can also lead to brain tumor. Ionizing radiation from atomic bomb, or ionizing radiation used for treating certain cancers can cause glioma.
- People who remain close to electromagnetic field, or are exposed to frequent radiofrequency are at greater risk. Radiofrequency emitted from cellphones and microwave ovens increases the risk of glioma.
- Family history of someone suffering from glioma in family may increase the risk, but there is no certain gene found that may be associated with this tumor as yet.
Signs And Symptoms Of Glioma
The symptoms of glioma mostly depend on the size of tumor, its extent of spread in the brain and the location in the brain. Following are common symptoms that are found in a person suffering from glioma.
- Headache, it can be mild or severe. Pain increases with growth of the tumor.
- The tumor causes increased pressure in the brain resulting in vomiting and nausea.
- Deterioration in brain function.
- Loss of memory.
- Incontinence of urine and stool.
- Improper gait as patient finds difficult to balance his body.
- Speech problem
Diagnosis And Treatment Of Glioma
Diagnosis of glioma is made by a neurologist from the symptoms, and investigation. Imaging techniques such as MRI and CT scan of brain will help in diagnosing the condition. The neurosurgeon will also do a biopsy of the tumor depending on its location. A needle biopsy is done and the sample is sent in the laboratory for histopathological analysis. Once the disease is confirmed treatment can be started. Biopsy also helps in grading the tumor.
The treatment of tumor depends on the size of tumor, its type and size. It also depends on which grade the tumor is. The first step of the treatment is to remove the tumor as much as possible. In some patients the tumor can be easily separated from the surrounding brain tissue. Removing the tumor can reduce the signs and symptoms.
In some cases where the tumor is difficult to remove, there may be some risk while removing it. For example there can be loss of vision or risk of paralysis depending on the damage to the nerve cells that are damaged.
After surgical removal, most patients may need radiation and chemotherapy treatment to kill the remaining tumor cells. Radiation and chemotherapy are both given in combination.