What are Tumors and How Can They Affect the Brain? I would like to start this essay by saying, I have an interest in covering this topic because I know of a couple people that are very close to me that have been affected by this condition. A doctor found a benign, tumor within my friend’s brain at the age of thirteen, but he is now twenty-four years old and as healthy as ever. My father is the other person I know who had a tumor. A team of doctors found his tumor when he was thirty-nine years old; I was only four years old at the time. His was also benign but it was within a different spot of his brain, unfortunately he passed away twelve years after he found out he had it.
What are brain tumors? Brain tumors are masses of cells that grow abnormally and uncontrollably within the brain. They can be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous) (WebMD, web).
Even if the tumor is benign, it is still dangerous because the brain is enclosed in the skull. The skull cannot expand to make room for a growing tumor, so the tumor may press on or damage delicate brain tissue. Symptoms include frequent headaches, loss of appetite, seizures, speech problems, impaired vision, problems of understanding and change in personality. Even if you have all these symptoms, it does not mean you have a tumor.
From my searches, I say the only way you know if you have a tumor is going through the tests. To diagnose a brain tumor, a doctor takes a complete medical history and conducts a neurological examination, as well as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan of the brain (National Brain Tumor Foundation, web).
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Also, other scans can help determine the specific tumor type and characteristics, such as CT (computed tomography) and PET (positron emission tomography).
In addition, a biopsy of the tumor tissue is performed to provide a definitive diagnosis.
If the tumor is deep inside or in a critical area of the brain, a needle biopsy has to be performed. Then, by examining the biopsy, the doctor can determine the exact type and grade (aggressiveness) of the tumor. After the doctor comes back with the results and you find out what kind of tumor it is, you are placed a couple of options with treating this kind of disease. The American Brain Tumor Association says that surgery is most common treatment (American Brain Tumor Association, web).
Simply put, the doctor tries to remove as much of the tumor as possible and release pressure within the skull caused by the tumor. After this surgery, another MRI is performed to determine the extent of tumor removal and to help plan further treatment. Radiation therapy is another treatment that can be done. This is where doctors deliver doses of radiation to the tumor.
If the treatments above do not work, chemotherapy, the use of chemicals or drugs, would be the next approach for trying to get rid of the tumor. Even after all that, the patient still has to go back to their doctors for more tests. I cannot remember everything when I was younger but I do remember visiting my farther in hospitals all the time. I think I spent more time with him in the hospital than any other time in my life. I look back now with regret that I did not spend as much time with him when he was home, I wish I would have! Sense the tendency for brain tumors to recur was great and the possible side effects of the treatments, follow-up examinations are a given. As I mentioned before, after the surgery is done an MRI scan must be taken.
If radiation therapy or chemotherapy was performed, the MRI scan must be taken on an ongoing basis. I always knew if my father was not at home or at his second home (the hospital), he would be at the doctor’s office getting tests done. There was a wide variety of rehabilitation techniques my farther, with the assistants of my mother and doctors had tried. All of them as a team had to work on his A DLs (activities of daily living) after his second surgery was performed. I remember after he had his first surgery, he could still walk normally, hold a conversation, he was basically his old self. For example, there was a day my brothers were riding their Honda dirt bike up and down our road.
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My father took notice, so he went over by them and said, “Give me that. I want to show you boys a new trick.” He got on the bike, rode about thirty yards away and then came back riding a wheelie with one hand waving to my brothers and I. He started to show off more by not looking where he was going so the inevitable happened. He crashed into the neighbor’s fence sending him flying over it. He got to his feet and picked up the pieces of the fence. After that, he came walking down the rode dragging the bike behind him and all he said to us was “I guess I better buy you guys a new one.” If you knew who he was, you would know that this is the norm for him.
From the stories, I used to hear, he sounded untouchable, and nothing could hurt or faze him. It is still depressing to think that something as small as a quarter affected his life and everyone he knew as much as it has. One other crazy thing he used to do is during the wintertime the lake behind our house would freeze over solid, so he would, I do not have any idea why, drive his car out on to ice and drive around, he made the lake his short cut to get to my grandmother’s house to pickup my mother for their dates. As a matter of fact, I think my mother told me he did that on their first date.
They drove across the lake to go pick up their friends before going out to eat and she was freaked out. Yes, I remember her telling me that because she told me if he ever did that again with her in the car, she would never see him again. As I mentioned previous he started to run into problems with his speech, mobility, memory, and emotions. It seemed like he lost all control.
Towards the last four or five years his life, he became immobile. He was in a wheel chair that he could not move because he lost control of his arm movements. My mother, which is a very strong and dedicated person, took care of him 100%. She had to feed him, bath him, change his cloths, etc…
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She did that for a total of four years until insurance finally came through and paid for a nurse to be at our home, by that time it did not matter anyways. On my dna web page it says, it can affect memory and learning, senses (hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch), and emotion (my dna, web tumor).
In addition, brain tumors can cause hallucinations due to either focal compression and irritation of brain structures or mass effect causing increased ICP (Clinical Features, web).
From this same website, it also states that tumors located near the medial temporal lobe can cause visual and auditory hallucinations, awareness of abnormal taste, feelings of fear, d’ej’a vu, and depersonalization and un familiarization with surroundings (Clinical Features, web).
My father’s tumor was located near that point. Towards the end of his life, he would have hallucinations on daily basis.
He would always think that there was a bulldozer running through and tearing our home down. Every once in awhile he would start speaking to someone else that was not in the room and that we did not know of. Sometimes he could not remember my brothers and me. As you have read it can be very hard physically and mentally going through this type of disease. Depending on where the tumor is located at in the brain or on it is how it will affect different actions and emotions a person has. Doing this research paper has taught me many things about what he was going through all those years.
Understanding what part of his brain it affected, had me look back and understand why he was thinking a bulldozer was going through the house and understand why he would talk to someone that was not around. Even though there are some missing variables about his treatments, I still believe I have succeeded on what I wanted to do. I have researched and understood how tumors can affect the brain.