Benign brain tumors in Trauma Insurance policy

Benign brain tumors are lumps of brain cells that divide uncontrollably.  They grow slowly and do not invade other areas of the brain.  Most of the time, they are detected when they are large enough to cause symptoms. They are sometimes discovered when a CT scan of the brain is done for some other reason. Benign brain tumors is covered by Trauma Insurance Policy in New Zealand as one of 42 medical conditions.

Benign brain tumors are derived from different structures of the brain.  Meningioma comes from the thin covering of the brain called meninges. The craniopharyngioma is a cystic tumor that originates from the cells of the developing brain called the nasopharynx while the pituitary adenoma is a tumor composed of pituitary cells. An acoustic neuroma comes from the nerve.

Benign brain tumors in Trauma Insurance

In the brain it can happen spontaneously with no clear reason.  In some cases, genetics may play a role in the development of brain tumors.  Brain tumors can also be part of syndromes or constellation of diseases (some of them can be covered by Trauma policy, read more about what trauma insurance is). Hereditary syndromes with a benign pituitary syndrome include the Carney syndrome and Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type I. Environmental factors like radiation exposure can also trigger a development of a tumor in the brain.

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Benign brain tumors can become problematic once they start to grow and compress their surrounding structures.  The manifestations of these tumors depend on what area they impinge.  Headache can be the most common and recurring symptom especially if the tumor grows large enough to block the flow of fluid in the brain. Seizures can happen when the temporal lobe is affected while behavioral changes can be seen when the tumor grows in the frontal lobe of the brain.  If the optic tract is compressed, blurring leading to loss of vision can happen. A special kind of benign tumor in the pituitary gland can cause excess hormone secretion that can cause other changes in the body. A tumor that produces excessive amounts of growth hormone, for example, can manifest as enlargement of the hands and feet with facial feature coarsening in adults.

These tumors are diagnosed with cranial C.T. scan or cranial MRI. If the patient has no symptoms and the tumor is relatively small, it can be observed over time with repeated imaging of the brain. If the tumor is symptomatic, surgery has to be done to remove it. The goal of treatment is to surgically remove the entire tumor to relieve its pressure effect without damaging the normal areas of the brain. The approach of surgery depends on the size and location of the tumor.  Large tumors located near the skull can be removed by doing craniotomy. In this technique, an opening is made in the skull to gain access to the tumor.  Tumors located in the pituitary gland can be removed by doing transphenoidal sinus surgery. This is a delicate procedure that allows the surgeon to remove the tumor by making an opening in the base of the skull through the sphenoid sinus.  If there is incomplete removal of the tumor, radiation therapy can help destroy the remaining tumor cells.  Stereotactic radiosurgery is able to focus intense beam of radiation on the tumor with limited effect on the neighboring normal brain tissue. After the surgery, surveillance has to be done by repeating brain imaging to make sure that the tumor will not recur.

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