World Brain Tumour Day: Trends and advances to treat aggressive brain cancer

World Brain Tumour Day: Trends and advances to treat aggressive brain cancer

This World Brain Tumour Day, let’s know about brain cancer and know the latest treatment options available to treat cancer.

Brain tumors have continued to be a cause for concern, especially aggressive grade III and IV tumors, which are highly malignant. This has largely been due to low survival rates of the patients, with only a small fraction of patients successfully surviving the regular five-year period from diagnosis to treatment. In the wake of the 21st century, oncologists and researchers have made huge strides in the field of studying aggressive brain cancers which has helped patients understand their nature better and how to treat them. Dr. Sunil Furtado, Senior Consultant, Neurosurgery, Cytecare Hospitals sheds light on the latest treatment options for a brain tumor.

Understanding Aggressive Brain Tumours

Among the tumors which have been classified as aggressive, glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and deadliest of malignant tumors in adults and has been labeled as a Grade IV astrocytoma. GBM stems from a lineage of star-shaped glial cells which support nerve cells. Among the highly active GBM are astrocytomas (a type of cancer of the brain), which make up for 50 percent of all brain tumors that primarily originate in the brain. Oligodendrogliomas are similar to astrocytomas and depending on their growth rate; the lower grade tumors are treatable.

Brain tumor – latest advances in the treatment

Until recently, brain tumors were treated using traditional methods of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Today, some of the newer, more revolutionary methods of diagnosis and treatment have made it possible to remove the tumor and prolong the life span of the cancer patient.

Imaging methods: It has advanced to include magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (MRSI) which uses a specially processed map of important chemicals involved in brain tumors. Magnetic resonance tractography helps identify nerve pathways close to the tumor. Here are 4 things your neurologist wants you to know about the brain tumor.

Surgery with neuronavigation: Surgery is supported with the help of computers which guide the operating surgeon to navigate through safe corridors within the brain (neuronavigation). Highly focused operative microscopes can define in real-time the extent of tumor removal during surgery, with the injection of special dye chemical through a vein.

Drug delivery: In the case of chemotherapy, convection-enhanced delivery is being experimented with, which can allow a small tube to be placed in the tumor. This can be achieved by creating a small hole in the skull, further fitted with an infusion pump, through which drugs will be administered. Drugs embedded in thin dissolving wafers can be placed in the tumor cavity at the end of the surgery, to dissolve and destroy tumor cells.

Vaccines: Other treatment methods which are actively explored are tumor vaccines which stimulate the body’s immune system to fight the brain tumor. Other types of vaccines include angiogenesis inhibitors, which attack blood vessels created by tumours and prevent them from being nourished.

A large factor which contributes to the treatment of tumors is their growth rate, which is responsible for tumor cell multiplication. While newer drugs are targeting this, researchers have found that with these methods of treating aggressive brain tumors, they will go a long way in prolonging a patient’s life with a hope of bringing down the mortality rates due to brain cancers. Also, read about the top 10 myths and facts about the brain tumor.

Think201