Brain Tumor

The term brain tumor refers to neoplasms at or inside the brain tissue. Mainly nerve cells or cerebral membranes are affected.

Brain tumors can occur in many different forms, differentiating benign tumors from malignant tumors.

Course of the Disease

It is not entirely clear how brain tumors emerge. Based on current knowledge, environmental influences, nutrition, or stress are largely excluded as possible causes.

There are manifold symptoms that may indicate a brain tumor. Headaches, nausea or disturbances of consciousness up to a comatose state are, for instance, indicative of an increase in intracranial pressure. Neurological deficits in the forms of myasthenia, numbness, impairments of speech, vision or the ability to swallow can be further indicators. Additionally, symptoms like epileptic seizures, personality changes, disorientation or impaired memory functions can appear.

The World Health Organization (WHO) distinguishes about 130 different types of brain tumors that are divided into benign and malignant tumors. Frequently occurring tumors are e.g. meningiomas, mostly benign tumors that arise from the cells of the cerebral membrane and typically show a slow and extrusive growth. Glioblastomas are the most common malignant tumors. Their structure is similar to the supporting tissue of the brain – the so-called glial cells – and they grow rapidly. Adults occasionally develop brain tumors from metastases of tumors in other body regions that have migrated into the brain.

Children are more prone to develop a brain tumor than adults. However, starting at the age of 60, the probability of tumor development increases again.

Worldwide, approx. 250,000 people annually contract a brain tumor. Based on observations, the inhabitants of highly developed countries are affected more frequently.

Possible Therapies

Concerning brain tumors, the most common forms of treatment are surgical removal, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which are often combined with each other.

The treatment’s success depends on the tumor’s position. In some cases it is possible to completely remove a tumor surgically, but in other cases parts of the tumor cannot be reached or affect brain areas that control important, sometimes life-sustaining functions. In these cases, a combined therapy is reasonable. Chemotherapy or radiation therapy also work against the formation of metastases.

Furthermore, the type of tumor is crucial for the healing outcome. Benign, slowly growing tumors like meningiomas can often be removed completely and do not return. Malignant tumors like glioblastomas that expand aggressively can hardly ever be removed completely and frequently recur. It is not possible to heal patients with glioblastomas yet.

CorTec’s Approach

CorTec has developed an electrode that is applied as a diagnostic aid for the surgical treatment of brain tumors.

It allows the precise distinction between tumor tissue and healthy cerebral tissue. CorTec’s electrode helps surgeons to identify those brain areas that control important functions, like speech or movement, and that must not be impaired during surgery.

Literature for Further Reading

  • Diagnose und Therapie primärer Hirntumoren. Leitfaden fĂĽr Patienten und deren Angehörige. Hrsg. Deutsche Hirntumorhilfe e.V. Leipziger Universitätsverlag 2000
  • Eric Baumann: Einen Sommer noch. Mein Leben mit der Diagnose Hirntumor. Köln 2011
  • Jörg-Christian Tonn, Friedrich-Wilhelm Kreth u.a.: Hirntumoren und spinale Tumoren. Empfehlungen zur Diagnostik, Therapie und Nachsorge. W. Zuckschwerdt Verlag. Germering 2007