International Brain Tumor Day: vital neurorehabilitation

The aging of the population and advances in imaging techniques have led to an increase in the diagnosis of brain tumors, of which more than 5,000 new cases are detected each year in Spain, according to data provided by the Spanish Society of Neurology. (SEN) on the occasion of International Brain Tumor Day which takes place every June 8.

The SEN experts have reported that in recent years there has been an increase in the number of cases, which they attribute to the fact that imaging techniques have improved and this makes it possible to improve the diagnosis of this type of cancer since, although these tumors have a peak incidence in pediatric agealso increase progressively as adults age, reaching their maximum incidence between the sixth and seventh decade of life.

Currently, it is estimated that in our country some 20,000 people suffer from some type of brain tumor – a concept that encompasses 120 types of nervous system tumors – which can be either a primary tumor, that is, it has originated in the brain, or metastatic, which means that it originated in another part of the body and has spread to the brain.

15% of pediatric cancers are brain tumors

About 2% of all cancers diagnosed in adults and 15% of those diagnosed in children are brain tumors, which means they are the second most common type of cancer in the pediatric population after leukemia. The most common symptoms of a brain tumor are behavioral changes, epileptic seizures, vomiting, visual disturbances, fever, fatigue or headache. Other serious problems associated with this disease are cognitive dysfunction (in 80% of those affected), motor dysfunction (in 78%) and sphincter control dysfunction (in 37%).

“When we talk about cancer in general, it is estimated that therapeutic exercise both after diagnosis and subsequent disease-free survival reduces mortality by 59%”

“Although the main symptoms associated with brain cancer depend on the location of the tumor and its possible inflammation, others will be related to the side effects neurosurgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or other drugs used to treat it. And all of this will have an impact on the autonomy and quality of life of the person who suffers it,” he explains. Berta de AndresCoordinator of the Neurophysiotherapy Section of the Spanish Society of Neurology.

Physical activity, key in brain tumor recovery

Some types of brain tumors come to have a cure rate of more than 90%. But from the SEN it is remembered that the objective of the treatment of brain tumors should not focus solely on the control of the disease, but it is necessary to try to ensure that the people who suffer from them achieve the best possible quality of life thanks to adequate control of the symptoms.

“It is, therefore, quite common for people with brain tumors to present with multiple neurological symptoms and systemic complications. And they must all be treated and recognized appropriately”, says Berta de Andrés. “Since it is common to develop difficulties in movement, spatial orientation, apraxia, hemineglect, sensory deficits, balance or coordination, the latest research suggests that 80% of people who suffer from them require neurorehabilitation. However, traditionally, these people have been excluded from rehabilitation services despite the fact that, when we talk about cancer in general, it is estimated that therapeutic exercise both after diagnosis and subsequent disease-free survival reduces mortality by a 59%”.

From the SEN they emphasize that according to the last work carried out in 2022, people with brain cancer present some low activity levels regarding the recommendations of the 2019 International Multidisciplinary Consensus on Exercise in Cancer Survivors, despite the fact that scientific studies increasingly support Neurorehabilitation that treats functional deterioration or dysfunction related to cancer treatments.

In this sense, they consider that Neurorehabilitation in general and Neurophysiotherapy in particular should focus on the prevention of complications and on improving motor dysfunctions with the aim of preserving or improving the quality of life of patients. “Specifically from Neurophysiotherapy and through the therapeutic exercise possible complications derived from a possible lower mobility will be treated individually, falls will be prevented due to deconditioning or balance deficits, pain will be addressed, work will be done to reduce fatigue (which appears in 80% of cases that are treated with radiotherapy) and compensatory movement strategies will be taught when required”, explains Berta de Andrés.

“In any case, Neurophysiotherapy and the rest of the agents of the Neurorehabilitation team must adapt to the conditions of the person, their family and their particular environment in order to plan the therapeutic objectives. And, for that, multidisciplinary care and effective referral are necessary even when it is at the beginning of the process and after the diagnosis”.

Fuente: Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN)


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