Brain tumors are abnormal growths of cells that can develop in different parts of the brain, as well as in other nearby areas. This disease is more frequent than is commonly thought, since according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), it constitutes 2% of all cancers in adults. In this opportunity, Dr. Pamela García-Corrochano, a neurosurgeon at Clinica Ricardo Palma, gives us more information.
Main types of brain tumors
Brain tumors are classified into two major groups, according to the World Health Organization:
- Primary tumors: originate from cells belonging to the central nervous system, involving the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
- Secondary tumors: arise in other sites of the body; the most common are lung and breast, and metastasize to the brain.
Main risk factors for the development of brain tumors
The most common risk factors include:
- For primary tumors
Overexposure to ionizing radiation; people who have undergone radiotherapy or x-ray treatments very frequently are more prone to it.
- Genetic alterations
They can be inherited from parents to children since there is a predisposition to form tumors in the Central Nervous System. However, they may arise when there is no cause that explains their appearance, since it may be due to some type of alteration in the functioning of immunity or in the genes of each person, which are not necessarily inherited.
Common symptoms associated with brain tumors.
The most common symptom is headache or cephalea, which is accompanied by:
- Visual and olfactory disturbances
- Weakness of an extremity
- Alteration in the coordination of movements
- Decreased hearing
- Tinnitus, among others
However, these may differ according to their location and the type of tumor.
Within the surgical field, the latest advances and scopes are:
- Awake surgery: decreases the likelihood of sequelae by mapping the fully functioning brain, making it possible to identify and preserve important primary functional areas (language, movement, vision, etc.) and brain fibers.
- Neuronavigation: provides a correct and adequate localization of brain tumors in real-time and continuously inside the brain, helping in the optimal and more complete tumor resection.
- Intraoperative fluorescence: it allows a clearer differentiation between healthy tissue and affected tissue, through a substance that is placed in the vein and produces a light in the area, making the resection safer.
- Ultrasonic aspiration: this is a machine that fragments and disintegrates the tumor during surgery and helps preserve healthy tissue by generating ultrasound, facilitating tumor resection.
Dr. Pamela García-Corrochano
Neurosurgeon at Clínica Ricardo Palma