Brain tumor : Myths & Facts
The word brain tumor is scary and the patient is usually depressed immediately upon receiving a news about such a diagnosis as the fear can be related to the notions our Indian movies and media have propagated to show that brain tumor is usually the end of life.
A tumor that can occur at any age , develops in the brain cells . But not all brain tumors are deadly as they can be either noncancerous ( benign) or cancerous (malignant) and can grow slowly or rapidly. They can originate primarily from the brain or can spread as secondary form cancers in other parts of the body. Regardless of the type of brain tumor one has there are treatment options available . It is possible to have a long life even with cancerous brain tumors with the right treatment.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding tumor. Here dispeling some of the most popular myths about brain tumors:
Myth 1: Brain tumors are caused by cell phones or microwaves
Fact: There is no recent research to prove that mobile phones or any type of microwaves causes brain tumors, but prolonged exposure to any radiation can have an overall negative effect on health and should be avoided.
Myth 2: A dental X ray can lead to brain tumor
Fact: There were some studies published which found dental x-rays were associated with high risk of meningiomas, however they are no longer used in modern facilities.
Myth 3: Artificial sweeteners cause brain tumors
Fact : There is no such evidence .There are more than 100 studies published by the US FDA regarding their safety. However avoiding frequent use of food additives is beneficial for overall well being.
Myth 4: All brain tumors are deadly
Fact :Tumors which are benign are completely curable. Cancerous brain tumors are also curable if they are of low grade. Only the aggressive WHO Grade 4 tumors pose an immediate danger to life and the treatment options are evolving for them.
Myth 5: You will get a brain tumor for sure if your family member has been diagnosed with one.
Fact: This is a false statement. Only a few conditions like neurofibromatosis(NF1 and NF2), Li Fraumeni syndrome etc have an established genetic predisposition. They constitute a very small portion of brain tumor types. Other than that anecdotal reports of meningiomas and clusters of brain tumors within some families have been reported. Studies are still underway to establish such theories.
Myth 6: Brain tumors occur only in old patients
Fact: Brain tumors can occur at any age. Brain tumors are the second most common cancer in children.and newborns have also been found with a brain tumor. Each type of brain tumor is associated with a specific age group and the risk of a developing brain tumor cannot be determined by the age of a person.
Myth 7: All brain tumors present with headache, blurring of vision
Fact: Symptoms of brain tumors are not constant and can vary greatly according to the size and location of the tumor in the brain whereas headaches and blurred vision can be due to exhaustion or weakness.However, brain tumors can be completely silent with no symptoms till an advanced stage whereas some might show symptoms quite early.
Myth 8: Lifestyle modifications can ensure brain tumors do not occur
Fact: This is not true as there are no studies which indicate lifestyle modifications can prevent brain tumors. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and staying away from unhealthy habits can ensure a healthy body which can tolerate the treatment of such tumors in case they occur.
Brain tumor is one of the most complicated and challenging cancers, which requires a thorough assessment for its treatment and recovery . One needs to know the facts and not fall prey to the myths and lose hope and it is the first thing one can do after receiving a news on such a diagnosis about yourself or a loved one
About Author –
M.B.B.S, M.S (General Surgery), M.Ch (Neurosurgery)