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Brain Tumor Treatment

Knowing that you are diagnosed with a brain tumor is, beyond a doubt,  very shocking and scary. The news itself is a life-changing event for patients and their loved ones.

This scary feeling is absolutely natural.  Since the brain is a very sensitive organ that controls all our body functions. Moreover,  brain tumor surgery is a complex surgery and each aspect of the surgery needs to be taken care of at a very critical level and any mistake can be life-threatening. 

But with the advanced technology in diagnosis and surgery and skills of neurosurgeons, the success and survival rates of brain tumor surgeries have improved very significantly in the last decade. 

Let’s understand from the experience of Mr. Alex, from Zanzibar, Tanzania. 

Alex is a 36-year-old owner of a hotel. Alex has a beautiful daughter and a wonderful wife. Alex love’s to play with his 3-year-old daughter. 

Two years back, Alex started observing continuous headaches and weakness. Initially, Alex ignored these symptoms assuming that its due to work pressure. When Alex started noticing the hearing loss, Alex decided to consult a nearby doctor. The doctor prescribed medication and suggested he take a rest for a few days. 

Alex followed the doctor’s advice but failed to change his condition. Based on suggestions from his friend, Alex decided to consult a neurologist. The neurologist examined Alex and suggested he do an MRI. Alex followed the advice. The MRI reports confirmed a 2 cm meningioma brain tumor. The neurologist suggested consulting the neurosurgeon for surgery. 

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Alex and his wife Annie were in total shock. Alex’s friend advised Alex not to take any chance and visit India for surgery. Alex’s friend Samuel had visited India and underwent hernia surgery shared MedicoExperts contact details to Alex.

Alex contacted MedicoExperts and shared the test reports. The MedicoExperts team arranged the online video with one of the senior neurosurgeons from its panel. During the video consultation, the neurosurgeons explained the surgery and clarified all the doubts regarding the treatment. Alex, after understanding all the details, decided to come to India for the treatment.

After 12 Days, Alex along with his wife Annie came to India. Alex was admitted to the hospital on the same day. Pre-evaluation tests were performed to check the current condition of the tumor. It was a benign meningioma brain tumor of size 2.1 cm. Fortunately, the position of the tumor was very convenient for surgery. The neurosurgeon did the craniotomy to remove the brain tumor. In along 5 hour surgery the tumor was removed successfully. 

Alex and his wife were very happy with the outcome of the surgery and thanked the doctor and MedicoExperts team.

This can be your story as well to win the battle against brain tumors even if you have a complex brain tumor. What you need is the right guidance, right treatment at the right time from the right experts.

Before we move ahead with brain tumor symptoms, brain tumor treatment, and survival rates, let’s understand what brain tumor is.

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What is Brain Tumor?

Brain tumor is an abnormal growth of the cells present in the brain in an uncoordinated and uncontrolled manner. 

The brain tumors can be:

  • Benign or non-cancerous, or
  • Malignant or cancerous 

Apart from being cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumor can be:

Primary tumor: Primary brain tumors originate in the brain or in the central nervous system.

Secondary brain tumors or metastatic brain tumors: This type of brain tumor develops when cancer from other parts of the body like the lungs, esophagus spreads to the brain.

brain tumor treatment in India
different types of brain tumors

What are the different types of brain tumors?

Did you know that there are around 120 types of brain tumors? Some of the most common types of brain tumors are:

  • Acoustic tumor
  • Astrocytoma
    • Pilocytic Astrocytoma
    • Low-grade Astrocytoma
    • Anaplastic Astrocytoma
  • Glioblastoma
    • Lymphoma of the Central Nervous System
    • Chordoma
    • Craniopharyngioma
    • Medulloblastoma
  • Glioma:
    • Mixed Glioma
    • Optic nerve glioma
    • Brain Stem Glioma
  • Subependymoma
    • Metastatic brain tumor
    • Pituitary tumor
    • Oligodendroglioma
    • Primitive neuroectodermal tumor

What is the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumors?

Brain tumor results from uncoordinated and uncontrolled growth of the brain cells. In some people with brain tumors, the abnormal cell growth is rapid, while in a few people, it is slow.  

Generally, cancerous tumors multiply and spread rapidly, whereas, in non-cancerous tumors, the cell multiplies slowly. Non-cancerous tumors do not spread to other parts of the body. 

Brain tumors need proper care and treatment, even if they are non-cancerous. By initiating timely treatment, you can avoid severe complications and damage caused to other areas of the brain and spine. 

cancerous and non-cancerous brain tumors, brain tumor treatment in india
symptoms of brain tumor

What are the symptoms of brain tumors?

Typically, brain and other nervous system tumors do not cause any symptoms. However, when the overgrowing tissue presses the neighboring nerve tissues. The symptoms of brain tumors are not the same for everyone, but it depends on the location of the cancer. However, the common symptoms of brain tumor include:

  • Morning headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty in walking as the body loses its ability to balance
  • One might experience vision, hearing, or speech problems or sometimes all three.
  • Loss of memory
  • Changes in personality, mood, and focus
  • Constant numbness or tingling sensation in the hands or legs

Who is at risk for developing brain tumors?

Anything that elevates your possibility to develop the disease is called a risk factor. The risk factors for brain tumors include:

  • Prolonged exposure to X-ray or other harmful radiation 
  • Family history of cancer
  • People with genetic syndromes like- Von Hippel Lindau Disease
  • People having cancer elsewhere in the body
brain tumors risk

What are the different grades of brain tumors?

The different grades of tumors show the extent of the spread and growth of the brain tumor. Broadly brain tumors are divided into four grades, i.e., from Grade 1 (the least aggressive) to Grade 4 (the most aggressive).

The features of different grades of brain tumor are:

  • Usually non-cancerous
  • The growth of the brain tumor in this stage is slow
  • Unlike in advanced grades, the change in the structure of the cells is minimal in grade 1 brain tumor
  • Have good prognosis
  • In this stage, the brain tumor grows at a relatively slow speed
  • Cancer begins to spread in the neighboring structures
  • Changes in the appearance of the tumor cells start to become evident
  • The structure of the cells become abnormal
  • The cells divide at a relatively high speed 
  • Tumor cells infiltrate the neighboring structures
  • Cancerous
  • Very aggressive
  • The brain tumor grows abnormally fast
  • Spreads to other parts of the brain
  • Abnormal structure of the cells
  • New blood vessels form around the brain tumor to maintain its growth
  • Necrosis or cell death begins to start in the tumor
brain tumor staging

What is brain tumor staging?

Brain tumor staging helps to determine the extent of the spread of cancer. If the brain tumor is secondary, staging is essential as it lets the doctor know the extent of the spread of the tumor. However, for primary brain tumors staging is not required because primary brain tumors do not spread beyond the nervous system.

How is a brain tumor diagnosed?

If you are experiencing the above symptoms your doctor can suggest you undergo a few tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests include:

During the physical examination, your doctor will check the reflexes of your body along with muscle strength. Along with that, your doctor will also check your vision, alertness, coordination, and balance. 

If your doctor finds something amiss he can refer you to a neurologist for a detailed neurological examination.

With the help of imaging tests, your doctor can get a picture of your brain and spinal cord. Doctors usually prefer either a computer tomography (CT ) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to understand brain diseases.

Sometimes your doctor can advise you to undergo a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The PET scan helps your doctor to understand the difference between scar tissue and tumor tissues.

If your doctor finds an outgrowth he may suggest you undergo a biopsy to ensure if the growth is cancerous or not. During the biopsy, your doctor removes tumor tissues to study the cells. 

Generally, doctors avoid fine needle biopsy for brain tumors as it is risky. Open biopsy is mainly performed in cases of the primary tumor, where your doctor removes the tumor surgically while sending a few tumor tissues for biopsy.

Lumbar puncture is mainly used to detect cancer cells in the cerebrospinal fluid. Usually, lumbar puncture is considered to be a safe procedure. However, MRI or CT scan must be performed before lumbar puncture.

Your doctor may advise you to do a routine blood test to keep a count of your blood cells. Also, your doctor may advise you for a kidney and liver function test to ensure that the organs are functioning properly.

How to choose the best neurosurgeon for your brain tumor treatment?

We know choosing the right neurosurgeon for your brain tumor surgery can sometimes be overwhelming. While you might prefer a neurosurgeon based on his years of experience, does only years of experience make a neurosurgeon an ideal neurosurgeon for you?  

Well! We believe that an ideal neurosurgeon for your brain tumor surgery would be someone who not only has very good experience in terms of numbers of years but also has handled a couple of thousand cases with a success rate greater than 75%. 

Additionally, you must ensure that the doctor is well-trained with the latest surgical techniques, equipment, and protocols.

how to choose best neurosurgeons
best neurosurgeon in India

How to choose the best hospital and best country for brain tumor surgery?

Brain tumor surgeries are complex surgeries that require advanced imaging techniques, innovative technologies, and well-trained staff.

The success of brain tumor surgery depends on the teamwork of the neurosurgeon, the surgical team, and the post-operative patient care team. 

Although the UK and USA have the best neurosurgery hospitals, the treatment in western countries may cost you a fortune.  

However, the cost of treatments and surgeries in India is just about 40 – 50% of the cost in the USA, the UK, and other developed nations. 

India has seen an upsurge in the number of people coming from other countries to India for their treatment. The reason for this upsurge in the numbers is that India houses a few of the world’s best neurosurgeons. Apart from well-trained neurosurgeons India also offers specialized and well-trained operative and post-operative care teams, along with world-class surgical and hospital infrastructure, that are capable of handling complex cases, at an affordable cost.

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What are the best brain tumor treatments available in India?

A variety of best brain tumor treatment options are available in India. The following treatments are available for treating brain tumors:

Surgery is considered as the best brain tumor treatment approach for removing the tumor cells. Surgery alone or combined with radiation therapy helps control many types of tumors. Surgery also helps in relieving symptoms of brain tumors. 

However, surgery may not be indicated in certain types of brain tumors like lymphomas.

While surgery can efficiently remove tumors there are chances that one may develop a few complications like bleeding, infection, seizure, or swelling of the brain. 

But there is nothing to worry about as these complications can get managed easily by medication and proper care.

Craniotomy:

Craniotomy is an operation in which a surgeon removes a piece of the skull over the tumor. They carefully remove part or all of the tumor and replace the piece of skull. Some of this operation may be done while you are awake so the surgeon can check your speech and movement.

 

 

MRI Guided Laser Ablation:

MRI-guided laser ablation is a minimally invasive neurosurgical technique for a number of diseases, including brain tumors. This treatment involves using lasers to target and destroy the tumor.

This procedure can help surgeons address the most serious brain tumors, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and brain tumors that are located close to sensitive structures in the brain, making them hard to access through traditional open surgery (craniotomy).

This technique can reduce pain after surgery and shorten recovery time compared to that associated with craniotomy.

Minimally Invasive Endonasal Endoscopy (endonasal endoscopic surgery):

This surgery allows surgeon to remove tumors or lesions through nose and sinuses. It allows them to access parts of the brain without making an incision.

The procedure involves the use of an endoscope. Surgeon can use this technique for tumors on the pituitary gland, tumors on the base of the skull, and tumors growing at the bottom part of the brain.

Minimally Invasive Neuroendoscopy:

Neuroendoscopy uses endoscopes to remove brain tumors. Surgeon may make small, dime-sized holes in the skull to access parts of the brain during this surgery.

Radiation therapy is considered as one of the best brain tumor treatment approaches for killing leftover tumor cells after the surgery. The radiation therapy is useful for treating brain tumors in people who cannot undergo surgery and are not responding well to the medicine. 

During radiation therapy, the tumor cells are ushered with radiation beams. The high-intensity beams kill the cancerous cells. 

Many people complain of headaches, nausea, and vomiting after radiation therapy. Usually, people get tired and irritable after the radiation therapy session. Some people complain of hair fall after radiation therapy.

During chemotherapy, your doctor will administer anti-cancer pills orally or through an IV line. 

Although chemotherapy works well for different cancers, chemotherapy is usually not advised for treating brain tumors because the drugs administered through chemotherapy sometimes do not reach the brain.

However, if the drugs are injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid chemotherapy can work efficiently.

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What is the cost of brain tumor surgery in India?

The cost for brain tumor surgery in India ranges between USD $5000- $9000 ( 374745 – 670959 INR) depending upon the surgeon and hospital.

The cost for radiotherapy for brain tumors in India ranges between USD $1,000 – $3,500 (74949 – 262321 INR)  per sitting.

While the cost for chemotherapy for brain tumor treatment ranges between USD  $300- $1200 (22365 – 89938 INR) per sitting.

However, the cost of treatment for brain tumors varies for every patient depending on their health, treatment involved, medication, location, and the stage of cancer. 

While we help you get the best brain tumor treatment in India, we also ensure that the cost of brain tumor surgery is reasonable for you.

Treatment cost
prostate cancer survival rate

What is the survival rate of brain tumor treatment in India?

Brain tumors primarily arise within brain cells or metastasize from other parts of the body. While the brain tumor treatment success rate primarily depends on various factors like stage, size, age, gender, and type of the brain tumor.  

The survival rate shows the portion of people who will survive for the next five years after getting diagnosed with a brain tumor. 

The five-year survival rate among people with brain tumors is approximately 79%-35% based on the age, type, and location of cancer.

However, the survival rates vary based on various factors, like the type of tumor, age, etc. 

Frequently Asked Questions and patient concerns:

1. How is a brain tumor recognized?

No signs that are peculiar to brain tumors are present. They are due to damage to the area of the brain where the tumor happens to be located when symptoms do occur. Thus, tumors in the front region of the brain can alter personality, tumors in the middle of the brain can impact capability, feeling, vision, etc. With brain tumors, seizures can also occur, as can headaches. However, any of these signs may be caused by a number of other neurologic disorders. It takes many measures to understand that the neurological symptoms are due to a brain tumor.

2. What options are there to treat a metastatic tumor in the brain?

The two primary choices are to surgically remove or eliminate the metastatic tumor by concentrated radiation (gamma knife, stereotactic radiosurgery, or proton beam therapy). Conventional radiation therapy, an external beam, is often used to enhance prognosis and reduce recurrences.

3. What tests are needed to determine if a patient would be appropriate for Gamma knife?

The gamma knife is an effective treatment for metastatic brain tumors (as opposed to primary brain tumors) if the tumor is not too large, if there are not too many tumors, and if the tumor is located in a brain area that is able to cope with the transient swelling that often occurs after treatment. The treating neurosurgeon and radiation oncologist need to examine both of these problems to determine if a gamma knife is necessary.

4. What can the patient expect after Gamma Knife treatment?

During the treatment, the Gamma Knife usually causes some brain swelling. Typically, this is mild and reversible, recovers after several weeks, and can be treated with medications.

5. What does it mean when a brain tumor is in remission?

This means that all symptoms (as assessed by MRI) of the tumor are gone. This does not mean that it cures the tumor. Instead, it means that our latest imaging methods, including MRI, are not sufficiently sensitive to pick up any remaining few tumor cells that are malignant. This is why, after all symptoms of the tumor are gone, we also begin treating brain tumors with chemotherapy.

6. What's the average length of hospitalization and recovery time after brain tumor surgery?

The hospitalization is usually one day when the surgeon performs a biopsy, and recovery is very quick. More comprehensive operations including removal of all or part of the tumor that is readily apparent require longer hospital stays (4-6 days) and a longer recovery period (3-6 weeks). While these may be problems for you to address with your neurosurgeon, you should note that when as much cancer is removed as possible, patients appear to do better.

7. Does awake brain surgery hurt?

The idea of being awake during brain tumor surgery may sound daunting, but it is actually painless and the best treatment choice in some cases. Awake brain surgery is painless since there are no sensory nerve fibers (nociceptors) that process pain in the gray and white matter of the brain. During a craniotomy, our anesthesiologist can numb the skin above the part of the skull that is to be cut so you do not feel pain. During the start and end of the operation, the neurosurgeon can also decide that you are unconscious, but awake during the resection so that you can provide motor and cognitive input.

8. What possible problems should I look for after brain surgery?

If you experience seizure, extreme headache, worsening neurological symptoms, fever or chills, ankle swelling, severe nausea or vomiting, or skin rash, you could consult your neurosurgeon.

9. Are there any side effects of brain tumor treatment?

The side effects of brain tumor treatment primarily depends on the treatment chosen. 

A few people who underwent chemotherapy may experience the following side effects:

  • Hair fall
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Bitterness in mouth
  • Altered appetite
  • Constantly dry mouth

A few people who went surgery may experience the following side effects of brain tumor  surgery: 

  • Seizure
  • Swelling in the brain
  • Bleeding

Usually, people experience the following side effects after radiation therapy for brain tumor:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Hair loss
  • Altered taste
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Fatigue

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