DESCRIPTIONA brain tumor is an abnormal growth in the brain that may be benign or malignant. A non-malignant brain tumor may cause as much disability as a malignant tumor unless it is treated appropriately. The brain and the central nervous system are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
Surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Self-care after diagnosis.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSHeadaches that worsen when lying down.
Vomiting with nausea, or sudden vomiting without nausea.
Vision disturbances, including double vision.
Weakness on one side of the body.
Lack of balance and dizziness.
Loss of sense of smell.
Some tumors begin in the brain (primary tumors), but most brain tumors have spread from other cancers -- especially cancer of the breast, lungs, or intestines, or malignant melanoma of the skin. Symptoms are caused by increasing pressure in the skull as the tumor enlarges.
RISK FACTORSPoor nutrition, especially a low-fiber diet (intestinal cancer).
Excess sun exposure (malignant melanoma).
Previous cancer at any other body site.
The following risk factors are related to cancers in other body parts that spread to the brain:
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCEEncourage your adolescent to do the following:
Practice breast self-exam.
Eat a high-fiber diet.
Protect from excessive sun exposure by using sunscreens and protective clothing.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory studies of blood and cerebrospinal fluid.
X-rays of the skull, bones, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
EEG (See Glossary).
CAT scan (See Glossary).
Radionuclide studies (See Glossary).
MRI (See Glossary).
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSDisability and death if a tumor is inoperable because of size or location.
PROBABLE OUTCOMEBrain tumors that are not treated lead to death or permanent brain damage. Bones of the skull restrict a tumor's outward growth, so the brain is compressed as a tumor grows.
If a tumor is discovered and treated early with surgery or radiation therapy and chemotherapy, full recovery is often possible.
HOME CARENo specific instructions except those listed under other headings.
MEDICATIONCortisone drugs to diminish swelling of the brain tissue.
Anticonvulsant drugs to control seizures.
Your doctor may prescribe:
Your child can stay as active as his strength allows. He should work and exercise moderately and rest when tired.
DIET & FLUIDS
Your child should eat a high-protein diet to aid healing and growth. Vitamin and mineral supplements should not be necessary unless he cannot eat normally.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When appetite returns and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of a brain tumor.
New, unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may produce side effects.