World Brain Tumour Day 2024: Everything you need to know

In India, brain tumours are less than 10 per 1,00,000 individuals.

Observed annually on June 8, World Brain Tumour Day is a health awareness day. Observed annually on June 8, World Brain Tumour Day is a health awareness day.

Observed annually on June 8, World Brain Tumour Day is a health awareness day. Brain tumours are relatively uncommon compared to other types of cancer. Nonetheless, according to a recent report published by the National Cancer Institute, over 2 lakh individuals in the age category of 15 to 39 years in the United States are affected by primary brain or spinal cord tumours. 

In India, brain tumours are less than 10 per 1,00,000 individuals. However, the risk of its increasing trend, coupled with its disabling or deadly potential, raises serious concerns about brain tumours.

World Brain Tumour Day was initiated by a Leipzig-based non-profit organisation Deutsche Hirntumorhilfe e.V. (German Brain Tumour Association), in 2000. Since then, this day has functioned as a global platform to raise awareness about the seriousness of this challenging condition, prevention, and early detection. This day also highlights the difficulties experienced by the patient’s caregivers and family members. Additionally, it advocates for raising funds to improve research activities and enhance treatment outcomes.

Causes of brain tumours

Brain tumours are growths caused by an exponential proliferation of cells within the brain or meninges covering the brain. Based on the location and size of the tumours, they can be classified as benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). A malignant tumour is known as brain cancer. Brain tumours that originate within the brain are known as primary brain tumours. Secondary brain tumours result from cancer that has spread to the brain from other body parts.

The causes of brain tumours are not fully understood and are still the subject of ongoing research. The alterations in the DNA of brain cells can result in abnormal functioning and uncontrolled tissue growth. These additional cells can crowd out healthy brain cells or, in severe cases, cause damage. Hereditary factors may be one of the causes of this condition. Exposure to a strong type of radiation known as ‘ionising radiation’ is said to alter brain cell DNA. Radiation therapy used in the treatment of cancer is a form of ionising radiation.

Symptoms of brain tumours

Depending on the size and location of the tumour, the initial signs and symptoms may vary in different individuals. The rate of growth, also called tumour grade, is another factor depending on which the symptoms may vary. 

Common symptoms include severe headaches in the morning or seizures. The symptoms of a brain tumour may not be obvious in most cases. However, if you notice speech and behavioural changes, such as dizziness, weakness, or paralysis in one part or side of the body, tingling or numbness in the face, problems with vision or hearing, vomiting and nausea, or confusion in general, remember to seek medical advice promptly.

Diagnosis and treatment

Diagnosing brain tumours involves imaging tests. This may be followed by a physical examination in which the medical practitioner may inquire about the patient’s medical history. After a primary physical examination, the patient may be subjected to a neurological examination to test for balance and coordination issues and difficulties in seeing, hearing, and responding either through speech or reflexes. 

MRI and CT scans are the best imaging tests for the detection of a tumour. A biopsy is done to analyse the tissues and identify the type of the tumour to determine if it is cancerous or not.

Treatment modalities may vary depending on factors including the type, size, location, and rate of growth of the tumour. The age and overall health of the affected individual may also determine the mode of treatment used. The removal of the tumour through a surgical method is called a craniotomy. Radiation therapy is another mode of treatment that involves administering high doses of X-rays to either destroy brain tumour cells or reduce the size of the tumour. Chemotherapy, involving cytotoxic drugs, is a treatment that can be used alone or in combination with other modes. Immunotherapy and targeted therapy are yet another approach to fighting brain tumours with potentially fewer side effects.

Brain tumour, despite being a major form of cancer, often get overlooked due to lower public awareness. Misconceptions and stigma surrounding the condition can prevent people from seeking help. World Brain Tumour Day tackles these issues by spreading awareness, empowering patients and caregivers, and advocating for accessible and affordable treatment options.

Join our WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news, exclusives and videos on WhatsApp