Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s recent death from brain cancer at age 46 highlights how uncommon yet lethal brain cancer can be.
Joseph Robinette ‘Beau’ Biden, a former Delaware attorney general was diagnosed with brain cancer in August 2013. To remove a lesion, he underwent surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas in Houston. Follow-up treatment involved radiation therapy and chemotherapy, and he was decared cancer-free in November. However, a relapse took place in spring 2015 and he was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in May 2015 and later died on May 31.
According to statistics provided by Cancer.net—a website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology—an estimated 22,850 adults (12,900 men and 9,950 women) in the United States will be diagnosed with primary brain cancers in 2015.
Unlike other forms of cancer, brain tumors don’t usually spread to other parts of the body. The lethal effect of brain tumors is the impairment of normal body function, which depends on the location of the tumor in the brain.
Lesser-Known Symptoms Of Brain Cancer
While a headache could be the first sign of brain cancer, it isn’t the only one. Some lesser-known symptoms of the disease are:
1. Vision Problems
Brain cancer can cause blurring of vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision (vision outside the very center of gaze).
2. Hearing Impairment
People with tumors in the brain experience ringing in the ears or one-sided hearing loss.
3. Speech Problems
Slow speech or slurring of words may also be an early symptom. Verbal communication gets affected as the individual finds it difficult to say things that make sense. Words that have no relevance or sentences having an incorrect order of words can be commonly seen in people with brain cancer.
4. Motor Seizures (Convulsions)
Pressure on specific parts of the brain by the tumor can cause sudden movements of a person’s muscles and result in a seizure, which could cause tremors or the body to shake with varying intensity.
5. Mood Changes
A change in interests in a particular activity, feeling irritated and social decline are a few of the possible mood changes patients of brain cancer experience.
6. Vomiting & Nausea
The urge to vomit, especially in the morning, could be a symptom of brain cancer. However, both vomiting and nausea are vague symptoms as other infections can also cause them.
7. Fatigue & Drowsiness
Brain cancer can slow the processing speed of the brain down, resulting in fatigue, drowsiness and a lack of motivation.
8. Loss Of Balance
Brain signalling may get obstructed by the tumor, affecting the muscle movement and causing loss of balance.
A tumor on the frontal lobe of the cerebrum (largest part of the brain) could also cause paralysis.
Brain Cancer Diagnosis
If the doctor suspects a tumor in the brain, he may check the patient’s reflexes and muscle strength, check for loss of sensation (the ability to feel pin-pricks) and distinguishing between hot and cold. By using an ophthalmoscope, the doctor would try to view the optic nerve, which could bulge due to the pressure exerted by the tumor in the brain.
3-D imaging techniques such as CT and MRI scans provide a better diagnosis of brain cancers. MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) works best as it can detect even the minute changes taking place within a tumor. Finally, a biopsy may be done to confirm the presence of brain cancer.
If you experience more than one of these symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately to get treatment in time.
Advisory: The content made available at Z Living has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or by any other governmental agency. It is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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