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Brain Cancer

About The Department

A form of excessive and abnormal cells developing in the brain results in brain cancer. There are two types of brain cancer which are primary or metastatic brain cancer. The location where the cancer originates in the brain determines the categorisation of the cancer and its growth pattern.

The brain cancer which is in the form of a tumour may be cancerous of benign. Currently, researchers have been able to identify 130 types of brain tumour which are then graded by the degree of their malignancy and if there is a possibility of them expanding and penetrating other body parts. If the tumour is categorised as malignant, it leads to brain cancer. 

If the cancer originates in the brain, then it is categorised as a primary brain tumour which in turn can be benign or malignant. Consisting of slow growing cells, the benign tumour has specific parameters and rarely spreads. Treatments are often effective unless the tumour is located in a sensitive area of the brain which can be life-threatening. 

If the tumour is cancerous, the pattern of its growth and response to therapy is largely variable. For example, some forms of brain cancer may be encapsulated and can be removed with the help of surgery. Other types may possess thin and long filaments that can easily spread through the brain.  

The Department of Neuro-oncology at Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road provides state-of-the-art treatment facilities combined with compassionate care for their brain cancer patients. Our specialist neuro-oncologists along with multi-disciplinary experts such as neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists and nurse practitioners work closely to develop the patient’s treatment plan. 

Besides having access to a team of experts from multiple disciplines in medicine, Fortis Hospitals also focusses on direct patient care with dedicated critical care experts available round the clock. When you choose Fortis Hospitals as your healthcare partner in your brain cancer treatment journey, you are rest assured that you are in the hands of specialists who are some of the city’s foremost brain cancer experts. With several years of experience in treating all types of brain cancer, we are able to determine and offer therapies that will expedite your recovery process. 

Areas of Care

Brain cancer of individual patient varies greatly. At Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, our team of brain cancer experts have vast knowledge and skills in diagnosing and treating all types of brain cancer patients including:

  • Astrocytoma
  • CNS Lymphoma
  • Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG)
  • Ependymoma
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM)
  • Glioma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Oligoastrocytoma
  • Oligodendroglioma

If diagnosed at the right time and with subsequent successful therapy, patients with brain cancer may live a long and a better quality of life. Offering some of the most modern and advanced techniques of treatment that are effective in battling brain cancer, the goal of our experts is to focus on cure. With a combination of clinical care and extensive research at the Department of Neuro-oncology at Fortis Hospitals, the specialist team works together to provide the best that science and technology can offer to the individual patient. 

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Signs and Symptoms of Brain Cancer

In the majority of cases, the symptoms of brain cancer may be easily confused with that of other harmless conditions. However, symptoms of brain cancer can be triggered by:

- If a tumour that is detected, is encroaching on other parts of the brain preventing them from carrying out their normal functions
- If there is a swelling or inflammation caused by a tumour in the brain

The symptoms of primary and metastatic brain cancers are more or less common to each other and includes the following:

- If your experience persistent headaches
- If you feel easily tired and weak
- If you see yourself becoming clumsy
- If you find yourself having difficulty walking
- If you go through frequent seizures

Other symptoms include:

- If you find yourself having difficulty concentrating, being forgetful, unable to pay attention, or have issues staying alert
- If you experience extreme nausea
- If you frequently vomiting
- If you observe abnormalities in your vision
- If you notice any difficulty in your speech
- If you see that there is continuous transformation in your intellectual capabilities or your response mechanisms

However, you need to get emergency medical attention immediately, if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

- If you are undergoing continuous vomiting without any other signs of diarrhoea or a plausible cause for vomiting
- If you have double vision, distorting sight particularly on one side only
- If you are easily fatigued, feel lazy and sleepy all the time
- If you are experiencing new types of seizures
- If your headache patterns have changed

Any one or more of these symptoms may be due to brain cancer. It is best to consult your general practitioner if your symptoms are persisting for a long period of time. However, symptoms of brain cancer can be mistaken for other medical conditions. Therefore, to know for sure, that the symptoms are the result of brain cancer, the best way is to undergo diagnostic screenings as prescribed by your specialist or general practitioner.

Our Diagnostic Services

If your specialist at Fortis has suspected brain cancer, then the initial round of diagnostics will include checking if various parts of your brain are functioning properly. The specialist will examine your reflexes, strength of your muscles, the sense of feeling pin-pricks and your ability to differentiate between hot and cold. If there is indeed a suspected tumor, your optic nerves will be checked by an opthalmoscope, to see if there is a bulge in case the pressure in the skull is increased. 

This will be followed by:

- Physical Examination:
The specialist will check your current physical condition and determine if there is an issue with your brain or brain stem.

- CT Scan:
The physical exam will be followed by a CT scan which is similar to an X-ray but shows the images in 3-D. With a contrast dye that is injected into the bloodstream, any abnormalities are easily detectable.

- MRI Scan:
The MRI Scan has a higher sensitivity and thus is a better alternative to CT scans in detecting brain cancer. 

- Blood Tests:
Brain cancer may also cause other medical problems. Therefore, some regular blood tests may be requested such as:

  • Blood Analysis
  • Electrolytes
  • Liver Function Tests

- Urine Test:
If your specialist thinks that your mental status has undergone a drastic change, then a urine test may be recommended to detect drug usage.

If the initial round of diagnostic screenings has been able to detect the presence of a tumor in the brain, then your neuro-oncologist will recommend:

- Biopsy:
This requires a surgical intervention where the skull is opened in order to remove the tumor which is later examined for the presence of cancerous cells. If the entire tumor cannot be removed, then a part of the tumor is removed to conduct the biopsy. 

An alternative way to conduct the biopsy is by drilling through the skull if the position of the tumor is known exactly. This is known as stereotaxis, or stereotactic biopsy.

If the biopsy confirms the brain cancer diagnosis, as a patient, one has to be a proactive participant in the treatment and be careful about keeping up with all appointments with the specialist team at Fortis. With brain cancer, patients may be at an increased risk of add-on medical conditions and also face the possibility of the cancer recurring or worsening. Therefore, at Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, our approach is based on a complete team effort that includes some of the brightest minds in brain cancer care. The end goal is to work in collaboration with the patient, their family and our expert team to deliver seamless therapy through innovative and personalised patient care. 

Treatment Options

The results of the imaging tests such as CT or MRI scan will be able to determine the stage of the brain cancer. It will also establish the size and if and how far the cancer may have penetrated beyond the brain. Following a gradation of the cancer on a scale of I to IV, the neuro-oncologist along with his team of experts will chart out your treatment route. Usually treatment for brain cancer includes surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy singularly or on combination.

Initial treatment before any surgical therapy is performed includes:

- To relieve inflammation, the patient may be administered a steroid drug, for example, dexamethasone.
- In order to prevent seizures, the patient may be prescribed an anti-convulsant medication.
- If there is presence of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, then the fluid is drained with the help of a thin, plastic tube referred to as a shunt. 

Surgical therapy may be performed once the patient as undergone the above treatments.

- Surgical therapy for brain cancer is performed in order to confirm that the abnormal growth detected during the diagnostic tests is a tumor that needs to be removed. Under the circumstances that the whole tumor cannot be removed during the surgical procedure, a sample is taken to characterize the type of the brain cancer. In case of benign tumors, the neuro-surgeon will attempt a complete removal of the entire tumor. 

- Radiation therapy uses high dose energy beams in order to destroy the cancerous cells in the tumor that basically restricts them from further growth and expansion. Radiation therapy may be used in combination with surgical therapy. It is usually a localized form of cancer treatment targeting the abnormal cells and does not pose any threat to the healthy cells in the body or the brain. Radiation to a brain cancer patient can be administered either internally or externally. 

- For internal radiation therapy, radioactive capsules are used that are placed inside the tumor. The radiation that is released from within the capsule kills the cancerous cells in the tumor. 

- On the other hand, external radiation uses high energy rays that are targeted at the tumor, traveling through the skin, the skull and any healthy tissue to reach it. 

- A knifeless surgical procedure known as Stereotactic Radiosurgery is sometimes used to kill the malignant cells in the brain. With a singular dose of high energy radiation beams, the tumor is targeted from multiple angles. 

- Chemotherapy kills cancerous cells using a single drug administered either through an IV line or by mouth. Some of the medication may also be given via the shunt when draining the excess brain fluid. Chemotherapy is an intensive form of cancer treatment that requires multiple rounds over a short period of time. Post conducting two to four rounds of chemotherapy, there is a break to see if the cancer in the brain has responded to the treatment. Chemotherapy brings with it, its share of side effects such as nausea and vomiting, mouth sores, loss of hair and appetite which may take a toll on the patient too.

At Fortis Hospitals, Bannerghatta Road, our experts are well versed in treating all types of complex brain cancer cases working in collaboration with specialists from allied medical disciplines like Radiation Oncology, Neurology, Oncology, Otolaryngology and Radiology. As a patient, you may have many questions and concerns during each phase of diagnostic testing and treatment. Through multiple consultations, we hope to clear your doubts so that the best form of treatment is made available to you.

Our Team that Cares

The department of Neuro-oncology at Fortis Hospitals has amassed extensive experience in treating brain cancer patients with its expert team of neuro-oncologists who are continuously coordinating, collaborating and using cutting-edge technology and research to treat our brain cancer patients. Through several systematic reviews, each case is dealt individually. We request our patients and their families to actively be a part of the treatment discussions and request for more information when ever necessary. 

By opting to work as a collaborative group, it helps Fortis to offer patient care more effectively and efficiently. With our specialist caregivers surrounding our brain cancer patients, we provide encouragement, compassionate care and information that will help them through their cancer journey with more energy and positivity.