This year in the US, it is estimated that almost 24 000 adults and more than 3 500 children will be diagnosed with cancerous tumors of the brain and spinal cord. Brain tumors are frightening because any operation involving the brain carries a huge risk. A big part of that risk is determined by how difficult it is to reach the tumor, depending on where it is situated. To top it all, brain and nervous system cancer – despite not being all that common – is the tenth highest killer among women.
There’s no guarantee that a brain tumor is operable. While survival rates after operations vary, they are not very high: five-year survival rates are 34% for men and 36% for women. The chances of success depend on how early the tumor can be identified, so its growth can be managed, even if it can’t be removed. What follows are the most common symptoms you should know.
Approximately 60% of brain tumor patients will suffer seizures at some point. Seizures are violent, jerky and shaking movements that can cause a patient to collapse or otherwise lose temporary control of the limbs and facial muscles. Always make sure that someone having a seizure is not biting down on their own tongue, choking or suffering from a concussion as a result of having bumped their head.
The kind of seizure we’ve described is a myoclonic one, but seizures can also be tonic-clonic. In the case of the latter, the person loses control of their whole body, including bodily functions, and may be unconscious for about 30 seconds. This is followed by the patient looking blue as a result of oxygen deprivation afterward. Often, a seizure is the first indicator of a tumor. tumors press against or otherwise irritate and obstruct the neurons responsible for sending signals from the brain to other parts of the body.