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Brain Tumor: Causes, Risk Factors & Diagnosis

Brain tumor is basically a mass or collection of abnormal cells within the brain. However, skull which encloses the brain is extremely rigid. Therefore, any growth inside the restricted space of brain, benign or malignant, will invariably cause problems. Brain tumors can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). When these tumors grow they create an increase in pressure inside the patient’s skull. This may cause damage to brain & may even end up as a life-threatening condition. Brain tumors are normally categorized as primary & secondary. Primary brain tumors are those which originate within the brain. However, most primary brain tumors are found to be benign. Secondary brain tumors, which are also known as metastatic brain tumors, are those found to occur when cancerous cells spread to the brain from some other organ of the body, including breast & lung.

Brain Tumor Causes Including Risk Factors

Risk factor and causes for brain tumors generally include the following.

Causes of brain tumor


  • Family History – However, only about 5 – 10 percent of all cancers are found to be hereditary of genetically inherited. Moreover, it is even rarer for a brain tumor to be genetically inherited. Patients must still however talk to neurosurgeons in case people within the family have been diagnosed with brain tumors. In such cases, neurosurgeons often recommend patients to visit a genetic counselor.
  • Age Factor – It is noted that risk of most types of brain tumors generally increase as people get older.
  • Race – Brain tumors are found to most likely occur in Caucasians. Even African-American people are found to be more likely to develop meningiomas tumor.
  • Exposure to Chemicals – Exposure to certain chemicals like those found in industrial work environments can increase risk of developing brain cancers. A list of potential cancer-causing chemicals found in the work place can be had from the neurosurgeon or the health department.
  • Exposure to Radiation – People having been exposed to ionizing radiation have increased risk of developing brain tumors. This also includes patients who have been exposed to ionizing radiation from high-radiation cancer therapy treatments. People exposed to radiation from nuclear fallout are also vulnerable to developing brain tumors. Nuclear power plant accidents like Chernobyl & Fukushima are best examples of how people are likely to be exposed to ionizing radiation from nuclear fallout.
  • No History of Chicken Pox – Strangely, people having a history of childhood chicken pox are found to have a decreased risk of developing brain tumor as adults.

Diagnosing Brain Tumors

Diagnosing brain tumor

Diagnosis of a brain tumor generally begins with a physical examination & evaluation of the patients’ medical history. Physical examination includes detailed neurological examination. Neurosurgeons will conduct test to find out if the cranial nerves are intact. These cranial nerves originate within the brain. Doctors will also examine the brain tumor patient with an ophthalmoscope. Ophthalmoscope is an instrument which shines light through pupils onto the retina. This is meant to allow doctors check as to how pupils react to light. This will let doctors know if there is any swelling of the optic nerve in brain tumor patients. Whenever pressure increases inside skull, it has been noticed that changes in the optic nerve occur. During physical examination doctors may also evaluate the patients’ memory, coordination, muscle strength & the ability to do mathematical calculations. Neurologists may order further tests after they have finished with physical examination. These may include the following.

  • CT Scans of the Head – CT Scans enable doctors obtain more detailed scans of structures within the body than they could with help of x-rays. CT scans can either be done with or without contrast. Contrast during a CT scan of head is achieved by using special dyes which help doctors clearly see some structures like blood vessels. However, brain tumor patients are often asked to fast before a CT scan which is using contrast.
  • MRI of the Head – Patients undergoing an MRI of the head will be required to take a special dye which is used to enable doctors detect brain tumors. MRI is much different from CT scans as these do not make use of any radiation.
  • Angiography – This procedure also uses a dye which is injected into the patients’ artery, mostly within the groin area. This dye will eventually travel to the brain & enable doctors see as to what type of blood supply the brain tumor is having. This information will however come very useful at the time of brain tumor surgery.
  • Brain Scan – Brain scan utilizes a harmless radioactive dye which is injected into the patients’ vein. Images are typically taken when this due passes through the veins in the brain tumor.
  • Skull X-Rays – Some brain tumors can also cause fractures or breaks in bones of the skull & therefore specific x-ray tests can reveal if this has occurred. These skull x-rays are also capable of picking up on calcium deposits which are sometimes found within brain tumors. Moreover, calcium deposits may also be present in the blood tumor patients’ bloodstream in case the cancer has also moved to the bones.
  • Biopsy – Small piece of tumor tissue is extracted during a biopsy operation. Specialists called neuropathologists will take this examination. Biopsy will eventually help determine whether tumor cells are noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Biopsy will also be able to determine if cancer originated within brain or it has come from another part of the body.

Also Read: Brain Tumor Surgery Recovery & Aftercare

Best Brain Tumor Treatment in India

Since neurosurgery across the globe is an extremely expensive proposition, best brain tumor treatment in India is most suitable due to the fact that medical procedures here like brain tumor surgery are still reasonably priced & in fact cost of brain tumor surgery is low when compared to other competitors. Moreover, best doctors & hospitals in India are globally reputed & equipped with the latest & most modern medical machinery capable of performing the most complex procedures. IndianMedTrip is associated with top neurosurgeons & nationally & internationally accredited multispecialty hospital facilities & therefore well placed to provide affordable treatment options to international patients without any waiting period.

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