What are brain tumours?

The brain and the tissues around it can develop abnormal cell growths called brain tumours. They can originate from various brain cell types, including astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, ependymal cells, or other cells. Tumours of the brain can impair normal brain function through tissue compression, invasion, or damage.

How does Dr Mthombeni diagnose brain tumours?

Brain tumours can be identified through imaging tests and a biopsy to evaluate a sample of the tumour cells. Some of the typical diagnostic procedures used to find brain tumours include the following:

  • Biopsy
    During a biopsy, a tumour tissue sample is taken and inspected under a microscope to identify whether or not it is cancerous. A biopsy can also assist in identifying the type of brain tumour and the best course of treatment.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
    Another imaging procedure that produces detailed images of the brain using X-rays is a CT scan. A CT scan confirms the presence, location, and size of the tumour.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
    A magnetic field and radio waves are used in this non-invasive imaging procedure to provide precise pictures of the brain.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
    A radioactive material is injected into the body during a PET scan so that a scanner can detect it and produce images of the brain. This examination can assist in identifying tumours.

After a brain tumour is identified, Dr Mthombeni will use this knowledge to create a unique treatment strategy depending on the type and location of the tumour, the patient's general health, and other medical factors.

How does Dr Mthombeni treat brain tumours?

The principal methods of treating brain tumours include:

  • Chemotherapy
    Chemotherapy involves administering drugs to kill cancer cells. This form of therapy can be given intravenously or orally, and it can be used by itself or with radiation therapy or surgery.
  • Immunotherapy
    Drugs used in immunotherapy prompt the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be used both independently and in conjunction with other therapies.
  • Radiation therapy
    In radiation therapy, high-energy radiation is utilised to destroy cancer cells. It may be used alone, along with chemotherapy, or in conjunction with surgery.
  • Steroids
    In order to minimise swelling and inflammation surrounding the tumour, steroids may be administered, which can help with symptoms including headaches and seizures.
  • Surgery
    Surgical excision is the most common method of treating brain tumours. Surgery aims to remove the largest amount of the tumour while sparing the healthy brain tissue around it.
  • Targeted therapy
    Drugs used in targeted therapy function by specifically targeting proteins or other molecules in the development and dissemination of cancer cells. It can be applied on its own or with other therapies.


What are the symptoms of a brain tumour?

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Blurred vision
  • Personality or behavioural changes
  • Weakness or numbness in the limbs
  • Issues with balance or coordination

What is the difference between a primary tumour and a metastatic brain tumour?

A primary brain tumour begins at one specific site, but a metastatic brain tumour begins as cancer in another organ and travels to the brain.


How do primary and metastatic brain tumours differ from one another?

The size and position of the tumour will determine the healing process following brain tumour surgery.

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