Brain Tumor is the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain. Brain Tumors can be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer). Noncancerous Tumors can usually be removed and are not likely to recur. Other tumors are malignant (cancerous). These tumors interfere with vital functions and is life threatening. Cancerous Brain Tumorsusually grow rapidly, crowding and invading tissue.
- Primary Brain Tumors (Gliomas) start in the brain and affect the central nervous system (CNS). They can be noncancerous or cancerous.
- Secondary Brain Tumors, which are 10 times more common, are cancers that originated elsewhere in the body and have metastasized (spread) to the brain. Secondary tumors are about 3 times more common than primary tumors of the brain.
Causes of Brain Cancer
The exact cause of most brain tumors is unknown. The following factors have been proposed as possible risk factors for primary brain tumors, but whether these factors actually increase an individual’s risk of a brain tumor is not known for sure.
- Radiation to the head
- An inherited (genetic) risk
- HIV infection
- Cigarette smoking
- Environmental toxins (for example, chemicals used in oil refineries, embalming chemicals, rubber industry chemicals)
Symptoms of Brain Cancer
Brain Tumors can cause many symptoms. Some of the most common are
- Headaches, usually worse in the morning
- Nausea and vomiting
- Changes in your ability to talk, hear or see
- Problems with balance or walking
- Problems with thinking or memory
- Muscle jerking or twitching
- Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
Risk Factors of Brain Cancer
People with the following conditions or characteristics may be at risk for developing a brain tumor:
- Radiation exposure
- Increased age
- Exposure to pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer
- Certain occupations, such as lead, petroleum, plastic, rubber, and textile workers, as well as aircraft and vehicle operators
- Exposure to electromagnetic fields
- Certain viruses, especially Epstein-Barr virus
- Certain genetic disorders
- People who have had transplants and individuals with AIDS
- A small percentage of brain tumors may be hereditary (approximately 5% of gliomas)
Treatment for a Brain Tumor
Treatment for a brain tumor depends on the type, location, and size of the tumor, as well as the person’s age and general health. Treatment generally involves surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, brachytherapy, or some combination of these.
Your health care provider may prescribe the following therapies:
- Steroids, to relieve swelling
- Anticonvulsants, to prevent or control seizures
- Radiation therapy, to destroy tumor tissue that cannot be removed with surgery or to kill cancer cells that may remain after surgery, or when surgery is not possible
- Chemotherapy, to kill cancer cells
- Brachytherapy, to destroy tumor cells from the inside (internal radiation therapy)
- Bevacizumab (avastin), a biologic drug that blocks the growth of blood vessels that feed tumors
Surgery and Other Procedures.
- Surgery is the most common treatment. To remove a brain tumor, a neurosurgeon performs a craniotomy, which involves making an opening in the skull. If the tumor cannot be at least partially removed, the surgeon may perform a biopsy, in which a small piece of the tumor is removed so that a pathologist can examine it under a microscope to determine the type of cancer cells. This necessary information helps determine other forms of treatment.
- Physicians may insert a shunt to drain cerebrospinal fluid. A shunt is a long, thin tube placed in the brain and then threaded under the skin to another part of the body, usually the abdomen. It works like a drainpipe, allowing excess fluid to be carried away from the brain and absorbed in the abdomen. Scientists are also developing therapies such as targeted toxins.
Home Care for Brain Cancer Patients
When fighting Brain Cancer, the health care providers in charge of your case should discuss details about home care with you and your family members.
- Home care usually includes supportive measures according to your symptoms.
- For example, if you have trouble walking, you probably should have a walker available at home.
Brain Cancer Survival Rate
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- Patients With Deadliest Of Brain Cancers Benefit From Repeated Surgeries (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Barrow researchers make breakthrough on immune system and brain tumors (eurekalert.org)