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Last updated December 5, 2016 (originally published December 1,
2013
)

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist




Persistent headache means only one thing – a brain tumor,
right? It is easy to imagine the worst if your head suddenly
hurts and it’s true that headaches are one of the signs of a
brain tumor. But not all headaches mean brain cancer, and
not all tumors are a death sentence.


Tumors can be benign or malignant. Benign brain tumors are
non-cancerous growths and can often be successfully
removed. What are the symptoms of a benign brain tumor?
How can you tell if the brain tumor is benign or malignant?
And what are the warning signs you can’t ignore?

How is a Benign Brain Tumor Different from a Malignant
Brain Tumor?

A brain tumor is the growth of abnormal cells in the brain. A
benign brain tumor grows slowly and doesn’t normally
spread to other parts of the body. Benign brain tumors often
have even, well-defined edges so they can be more easily
removed surgically.  

What are the Types of Benign Brain Tumor?

The different types of benign tumor in the brain depend on
the type of brain cells the tumor grows from. For example,
gliomas are tumors of the glial tissue, which holds together
nerve cells and fibers – according to the UK’s National Health
Service most brain tumors are gliomas. Meningiomas develop
in the brain’s membranes (they represent 34 percent of all
benign brain tumors according to the American Brain Tumor
Association).

Acoustic neuromas affect the acoustic nerve, affecting
hearing and balance – these are less common, making up 9
percent of all primary benign tumors. Craniopharyngiomas
are found close to the base of the brain. Haemangiomas
develop in the blood vessels and pituitary adenomas affect
the pituitary gland (13 percent of all primary brain tumors).

Who Suffers from Benign Brain Tumors?

Anyone can suffer from a benign brain tumor, including
children.

The Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States
expects 45,100 benign brain tumors to be diagnosed in
2013. In 2010 more than 550,000 people were living with a
benign brain tumor. Benign brain tumors affect 97.5 out of
100,000 people in the United States, according to a 2001
report from the School of Public Health, University of Illinois
at Chicago. And around 4,300 people are diagnosed with
benign brain tumors every year in the UK, according to the
National Health Service.

Do Hair Dyes Cause Brain Tumors?

There has been a persistent suspicion among doctors of
patients with benign brain tumors that prolonged use of hair
dye or hair chemicals encourages the growth of tumors.

In general, so far, studies have not confirmed this
connection. The last such study was completed in 2007 by
scientists from the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and
Genetics, National Cancer Institute. The study, led by Dr. E.C.
Bluhm, concluded that overall, there is no proven connection
between hair dye use and brain tumors.

But --- and this is a big "but" --- the scientists noted that
prolonged use of "Permanent brown hair" dye for a period
of more than 20 years is associated with a slightly higher risk
of glioma brain tumors.  The scientists called for more study
of the links between permanent hair coloring and benign
brain tumors.



[Update:

On the other hand, hair dye has been strongly linked with an
increased risk for bladder cancer. A 2001 study led by Dr.
Gago-Dominguez, of the University of Southern California
School of Medicine found that using hair dye could increase
your risk for bladder cancer. Hair dressers have a 50%
higher risk for bladder cancer than the rest of us. Again,
brown dye is the color most strongly linked with cancer.]




What is the Treatment for a Benign Brain Tumor?

Just because a tumor is benign doesn’t mean it is harmless.
It is important to treat a benign brain tumor early to prevent
complications caused by pressure on the brain and skull.
Most benign tumors can be successfully surgically removed
and don’t return.


What are the Symptoms of a Benign Brain Tumor?





























How do you know if you have a benign brain tumor? It is
difficult to tell. The signs and symptoms of a benign brain
tumor depend on how large the tumor is and where in the
brain it is positioned. You may have no symptoms at all with
some brain tumors – and the symptoms are also signs of
many other diseases and conditions. When you do get
symptoms it is because the tumor is putting pressure on the
brain or it is preventing certain areas in the brain from
working.

When the mass of cells increases pressure inside your skull
you can suffer from headaches, seizures, changes in mood
and temperament, memory problems, loss of sensory
feelings, dizziness and vomiting. Depending on where the
tumor is located you could experience anything from loss of
smell to numbness on one side of the body, hallucinations to
difficulty swallowing. To make it easier to see which signs
could be heralding a benign brain tumor, we’ve put together
a list of seven of the most common symptoms.

1.
Headache is A Sign of a Benign Brain Tumor

Headache is one of the most common symptoms benign
brain tumor patients experience, according to the American
Brain Tumor Association – around 50 percent of patients
experience headaches. Not all headaches will be brain
tumors, however, and it is important to remember that a
headache on its own is highly unlikely to be the result of a
tumor.

Certain signs increase the likelihood that a headache signals
a benign brain tumor. Your headache is persistent and
stronger than usual, and it is not responding to your normal
headache treatments. The headache may be worse in the
morning and can be accompanied by vomiting. Headaches
often worsen when you cough, change your body position
or exercise.

2.
Seizures Signal a Benign Brain Tumor

For many people, according to the American Brain Tumor
Association, a seizure or fit is the first sign that something is
going wrong in the brain.

Suffering from seizures is most common when you have a
slow-growing glioma, a meningioma or a metastatic brain
tumor. A seizure is caused by malfunctioning electrical
circuits in the brain. You may lose consciousness and the
seizure can cause abnormal movements and a change in your
sensory perceptions.

A seizure associated with a benign brain tumor is sudden
and short, and causes loss of consciousness followed by
muscle contractions. Around 60 percent of people with a
brain tumor will suffer a seizure at least once, says the
American Brain Tumor Association.

3.
Benign Tumors Can Cause Memory Problems

Your memory can be affected by the tumor itself, then
afterwards by the surgery or radiation therapy used to treat
the tumor. Fatigue – another symptom of a benign brain
tumor – can make memory problems worse. If you suffer
from
memory problems associated with a benign tumor, take
steps to improve the situation. Be well rested, minimize
distractions while working and focus on one thing at a time,
associate new information with something meaningful and
repeat facts to yourself in your own words.

4.
A Benign Brain Tumor May Cause Behavior Changes

More than 50 percent of brain tumor patients undergo some
personality changes, according to the American Brain Tumor
Association. In many cases these personality changes are
subtle and not easily seen by anyone but the person
themselves. Other times, someone else will recognize the
change before the sufferer.

Behavioral changes include the onset of
depression or
anxiety, irritability, mood swings, and socially inappropriate
behavior. You may also suffer from confusion and have
difficulty planning actions or multitasking. The type of
behavioral change depends on the area of the brain affected.
The frontal lobe may cause a loss of inhibitions, swearing, or
anti-social behavior. When the tumor is in this location you
may also suffer irritability, feelings of aggression, apathy,
and difficulty planning tasks.

5.
Vision Changes and Benign Brain Tumor

Sometimes an optician is the person to pick up a problem
with the brain. A benign tumor can cause changes in vision,
according to Cancer Research UK, including floating shapes
and blurred vision , tunnel vision, and periods of loss of
vision that improve then deteriorate. A tumor in the brain
stem can result in seeing double. Medics can sometimes
detect pressure in the skull during an eye exam.  

6.
How a Benign Tumor Affects Your Movement

A frontal lobe tumor makes walking difficult and can affect
your balance. You may feel unusually clumsy. Poor
coordination is one sign of a tumor in the cerebellum area or
the brain stem, says Cancer Research UK, and a growth in
this area can also cause uncontrolled movement of the eyes
and
dizziness.  

7.
Benign Tumors and Muscle Weakness

A benign tumor located in the frontal lobe of the brain can
result in numbness or tingling in your limbs. You may also
experience weakness in certain parts of the body. When the
tumor is located in the frontal lobe, one sign is weakness
down one side of the face or one half of your body,
according to Cancer Research UK.

A brain stem tumor can cause a drooping eyelid on one side
of the face or a lopsided mouth. A tumor in the parietal lobe
can result in a loss of feeling in an area of the body.        













































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Prolonged use of certain hair dyes has been
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