There are several types of brain tumour. Some grow slowly and are considered relatively benign or ‘low grade’. Others grow more quickly, causing more damage to normal brain and are considered malignant or ‘high grade.’ They are also given names according to which cells they originate from. About a quarter are meningiomas, arising from the meninges, or membranes covering the brain, and these are pretty benign. I was hoping for one of these but obviously missed out when they were being dealt out. The most common, are gliomas (about 45%) which are not so nice but vary according to grade. Then there are assorted other rarer tumours making up the remainder. (Lymphomas, haemangioblastomas, neuromas, pituitary tumours are examples)
Bob is a glioma (at least that’s the verdict at the time of writing, we shall see for sure when we chop up his sorry little ass and put him under the microscope).
Because of the appearance on the MRI scans, it is thought that he is at least a grade 3. (tuns out he’s G4) This means that he is malignant. I am told this is so because he took up contrast medium; grade 1 and 2 tumours do not do that. No, they are not so greedy and invasive as Bob, and relatively likeable in comparison. However, we must not hold this against him, the poor chap’s life expectancy is limited now that we have spotted him.
Tumours are also described by their site within the brain. Different parts of the brain have different functions and so depending on the site of the tumour, different symptoms will occur.
Bob has taken up residence in my fontal lobe, towards the back (by which I mean the back of the frontal lobe, not that the frontal lobe is at the back, that would be silly, after all it is called the frontal lobe for a reason). This is where the speech and language centre sits. Also, I am right handed, so my speech centre is on the left side of my brain.
Other functions of the frontal lobes include parts of memory, personality and motor functions (movement) so, on balance, I am very glad that Bob is only interfering with my speech. My understanding of spoken and written language is unaffected, and I know exactly what I think and want to say (as opinionated as ever… so personality preserved so far) it is just that it doesn’t come out right. Mostly this is just slightly amusing, and friends just fill in for me because, in context, it’s obvious what I am trying to say. However, I did feel slightly irritated the other day in John Lewis when I was talking to a (male) assistant about external hard dives and I said I needed a terabyte, only it came out as ‘termalite’. He smiled patronisingly and said ‘you mean terabyte’. I said, grumpily, ‘I know that, I just have a speech impediment,’ at which the poor chap got very embarrassed and apologised. Fortunately, my friend defused the situation by asking what you have to feed them. (terapins)
The areas of the brain are very interesting. Here is a ‘map’ from which you may be able to work out where you would most like a tumour to take up residence, were you unlucky enough to get one. The image shows a ‘slice’ of one hemisphere or a brain, showing where different anatomical structures are represented in the motor cortex (outer layers) of the brain, in terms of the complexity of function. Body parts that have to carry out more complex motor tasks, have a bigger area allocated to them.
If our body parts were sized according to the amount of ‘brain space’ they take up we would look like this.
That’s enough of that! I have no intention of getting any more technical here so…
Further information about types of tumour can be found here, for anyone who wants it.