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What is a Benign Brain Tumor?

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  • Written By: Dulce Corazon
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2016
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A tumor is a mass composed of cells that divide and multiply in an abnormal pattern. It can grow in any organs of the body, including the brain. The term benign is used for tumors that are not malignant and have no capacity to spread to other sites. Benign brain tumor, therefore, is a non-malignant mass or group of cells that abnormally grows in any area of the brain. Most benign brain tumors usually develop at a slower pace than malignant ones.

Several factors may increase an individual's risk for developing a benign brain tumor. These include having a family or relative diagnosed with brain tumors or brain cancer, and exposure to radiation and chemicals such as vinyl chloride and formaldehyde. Affected individuals are usually older than 70, although, benign brain tumors are also commonly seen in children.

The skull is the bone that protects and covers the brain. In the presence of a benign brain tumor or even a malignant one, the pressure inside the brain usually increases. Benign brain tumor symptoms usually depend on the the size and location of the tumor. Symptoms can include frequent headaches, seizures, hand tremors, loss of balance, and changes in mental functioning. Sometimes, the headache may be accompanied by confusion, numbness, double vision, and vomiting.

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A growing benign brain tumor is also life-threatening because it can compress brain tissues and other important brain structures. As it continues to grow bigger, the manifestation of symptoms also becomes more pronounced. An example of a benign brain tumor is the pituitary adenoma. It is a benign tumor that occurs in the pituitary gland, a pea-shaped structure in the brain responsible in hormone production. Symptoms of pituitary adenoma include absent menstruation in women, breast development in men, excess body hair, and sensitivity to hot and cold weather.

Tumors in the brain are often diagnosed by neurologists, doctors who treat patients with disorders related to the nervous system. They usually employ a number of tests in order to confirm the presence of a brain tumor. These include the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scan, and CT-guided biopsy. In CT-guided biopsy, the removal of brain tissues for laboratory study is done with the aid of a CT scan.

Benign brain tumor treatment generally depends on the age of the patient, the size of the tumor, its location, and the patient’s present condition. Neurosurgeons, doctors who perform surgical operations on the brain, usually do a craniotomy on these patients when needed. Craniotomy is the brain surgery procedure commonly done to remove the brain tumor. Radiation therapy is also frequently administered on affected patients to shrink the tumor.

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