As World Brain Tumor Day was celebrated last month to raise awareness about brain tumors and dispel related misconceptions with the theme ‘Together we are stronger, Dr. Edward Jolayemi has called for increased awareness aimed at enlightening people about brain tumors, the risk factors, symptoms, and treatment options.
Dr. Jolayemi who is currently a Neurosurgeon at Evercare Hospital, Lekki, with experience in a diverse range of brain and spine pathologies said brain tumors are abnormal growths within or around the brain.
His competence spans the fields of neuro-trauma, neuro- oncology, paediatric neurosurgery, pituitary surgery, neurovascular and spine surgeries.
According to him, the brain is a complex organ vulnerable to insults from trauma, infections, tumors, drugs including alcohol, metabolic disorders.
“Nature’s way of protecting the brain from external insults was to keep it enclosed within the rigid skull (cranium). It is also shielded from within using what we call the ‘blood- brain barrier’ to keep foreign agents at bay.”
Shedding more light on what brain tumor is, he said “It can be classified as benign or malignant, or as primary or secondary. Benign tumors are non- cancerous, tend to grow slowly and have less chance of recurring once completely removed at surgery. Malignant tumors however are cancerous and often grow rapidly, with high propensity to recur despite surgical intervention. Primary tumors arise from structures within and around the brain whilst secondary tumors get to the brain via spread (metastasis) from other tumors like breast, lung, thyroid cancers, etc.
“The cause of brain tumors is largely unknown. However, risk factors include family history of brain tumors, genetics, exposure to ionizing radiation, certain chemicals, and viruses. There have been studies to define the association of brain tumors with the use of cell phones, but no convincing data has emanated. However, there is suggestion that chronic use of cell phones for at least 10-years may increase the risk. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends limiting cell phone use and promotes the use of hands-free headsets. Symptoms in persons with brain tumors include acute or persistent headache, often worse in the early hours of the morning and associated with vomiting.”
Treatment options for brain tumors include surgery to remove the tumors. “The goal of surgery is complete tumor removal, preservation of normal brain function, and acquisition of tumor samples for laboratory confirmation of its nature. These surgeries are done by neurosurgeons who employ a wide range of gadgetry to safely take out the tumor. In some instances, especially in the Nigerian setting where late presentation to the hospital is common, complete brain tumor removal may not be feasible. In such scenarios, the surgeon may plan a subsequent surgery or offer other treatment modalities to address the residual tumor.”
The prognosis (expectation or outcome) in patients with brain tumors depends on a host of factors such as the tumor type, size, the presence or absence of brain deficits, patient’s age and fitness level, co-existing illness, etc. The role of multidisciplinary care and rehabilitation therapy in managing patients with brain tumors is critical. As the phrase goes, “Time is Brain”. In pathologies relating to the brain, be it trauma, infection, tumors, stroke, etc, it cannot be over- emphasised that early diagnosis and treatment is crucial.
He concluded by adding that, “brain tumor survivors and individuals with brain tumors require our support. With appropriate treatment, they have the chance of leading normal lives like their counterparts without tumors. Let’s spread love and not stigmatisation. Together, we are stronger.”