Brain tumours are abnormal growths of cells within the skull that can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).In most cases, the exact reasons for brain tumours are not known and in some cases, the risk factors may include exposure to radiation, certain genetic conditions, and environmental factors. In India, more and more brain tumours are being diagnosed due to improved diagnostic tests. However, we still see many cases of large tumours, highlighting the need for improved diagnostic tools and wider public awareness. Now, to commemorate World Brain Tumour Day 2024, in this article we will discuss about brain tumour headaches cause, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. 

How Brain Tumors Cause Headaches
When we asked Dr V. P. Singh, Chairman, Neurosurgery, Neurosciences, Medanta, Gurugram, about the cause of the brain tumour, he said, "The brain itself doesn't have pain receptors.  However, the meninges, the protective membranes surrounding the brain, and the blood vessels within the skull are highly sensitive. When a brain tumour grows, it can put pressure on these structures, leading to the characteristic pain associated with brain tumour headaches."
Symptoms of Brain Tumor 

Headaches: Headache is the most common presentation of brain tumour. It starts like ordinary headaches and then progressively worsens in frequency and intensity over time 

Brain tumour headaches differ from regular headaches in several ways:

. Frequency and Intensity: Brain tumour headaches tend to be more frequent and progressively worsen in intensity over time.  They might occur daily or several times a week, and over-the-counter pain relievers may become less effective in managing the pain.
. Location and Quality: The location of the pain can sometimes provide clues about the tumour's location. However, it's not always a definitive indicator. The pain can be dull, throbbing, or sharp and stabbing.  Some patients describe it as a constant pressure or a squeezing sensation in the head.
. Worsening with Activity: Brain tumour headaches often worsen with activities that increase

pressure in the skull, such as coughing, sneezing, straining during a bowel movement, or bending over. 
. Early Morning Headaches: Headaches that wake you up at night or early morning can be an important sign of a brain tumour.  This is because lying down increases intracranial pressure, potentially exacerbating the pain.

Additional Warning Signs
Headaches are not the only symptom of a brain tumour.  Here are some other signs to be aware of:

. Seizures
. Vision problems
. Persistent nausea and vomiting
. Weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
. Balance problems and dizziness
. Personality changes
The presence of a headache associated with any of the additional signs is an important indicator that the headache is not simple and may be associated with a brain tumour.  

. Diagnosis of Brain Tumor: The mainstay of diagnosing a brain tumour is a good-quality MRI of the brain with contrast. This is easily available at many centres all across the country. 
. Treatment of Brain Tumor: Advances in medicine have made the treatment of brain tumours easy, effective and safe. Using modern anesthesia techniques with microsurgery techniques safe removal of brain tumors is possible. Advanced instruments like neuro-navigation, ultrasonic aspirator, and intraoperative MRI are further helping in complete tumour removal. 

The use of intraoperative neuromonitoring enhances the safety of the patient. Minimally invasive techniques like neuroendoscopy and computer-assisted surgery increase the comfort of the patient. 

Non-invasive modalities like cyberknife radiosurgery are also available to manage small brain tumours in patients with minimal symptoms without opening the skull. 

Importance of Early Diagnosis
Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for improving the prognosis of brain tumours.  If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, especially new-onset headaches with the characteristics described earlier, it's vital to seek immediate medical attention.
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