Brain cancer develops when cells displaying uncontrolled growth, invasion, and/or metastasis arise in the brain. Two types of malignant (cancerous) tumors affect the brain:
- Primary (true) brain tumors may originate in any of the cells that form the brain.
- Metastatic (secondary) brain cancers spread to the brain from other parts of the body.
Brain Cancer Risk Factors
Brain cancer’s precise cause remains unknown, but certain factors have been identified that may elevate cancer risk:
- Age: Brain cancer predominantly affects people over the age of 45. However, there are rare brain tumors that almost exclusively develop in children.
- Race / Ethnicity: Caucasians are more likely to develop brain cancer.
- Radiation Exposure: Ionizing radiation can cause cellular DNA mutations that lead to cancer. Coincidentally, cancer is often treated with radiation therapies. Radiation’s unique ability to cause healthy cells to mutate is what also allows it to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing.
- Chemical Exposure: Studies indicate that people working in the agriculture, healthcare, electric, and petroleum industries are more likely to develop brain cancer. Exposure to chemicals used in these industries may cause this predominance. Evidence supporting this predominance, however, is weak and often disputed. People of all industries should be aware of the chemicals that they encounter at the workplace.
- Family and Personal Tumor History: Patients diagnosed with melanoma, lung, breast, kidney, or colon cancer are more likely to develop brain cancer. Tumor suppressor gene mutations and/or deletions may lead to brain cancer. Tumor suppressor genes are essential to the prevention of cancer-causing cellular anomalies throughout the bodies.
Brain Cancer Prevention
- Awareness: Know your workplace hazards. Where are harmful chemicals located? How can you avoid them? If you must handle them or transport them, how do you do it safely?
- Lifestyle: As with most illness, the best way to avoid brain cancer is to eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and keep stress levels low.
Brain Cancer Outlook
The prognosis (outlook) for brain cancer patients is largely dependent on the following:
- Tumor size
- Tumor Location
- Brain Cancer Type
- Overall Patient Health
Most brain cancer treatment plans are palliative, meaning that they are designed to prolong survival the patient’s quality of life for as long as possible. The cumulative long-term survival rate for brain cancer patients (more than 5 years) is less than 10%.
National Brain Tumor Society
The National Brain Tumor Society (NBTS) is a leader in the brain tumor community, bringing together the best of research and patient services to be a comprehensive resource for patients, families, caregivers, researchers, and medical professionals. Also, be sure to check our their new community at My.BrainTumorCommunity.Org.
Patient Services: (800) 934-2873
Toll Free: (800) 770-8287