A brain tumor develops when abnormal brain cells continue to grow into a mass or growth within the brain. A variety of brain tumors are known today:
- Malignant Brain Tumors: These brain tumors are cancerous, meaning that they divide without control or order, they invade into surrounding tissues, and/or they spread to other structures in the body.
- Benign Brain Tumors: These tumors non-cancerous. They display none of the aggressive characteristics of a malignant growth.
- Primary Brain Tumors: These growths originate in the tissues of the brain and may be malignant or benign.
- Secondary Brain Tumors: These malignant growths originate elsewhere in the body and metastasize into the brain.
The following tumors may arise in the tissues of the brain:
- Acoustic Neuroma
Each year, brain tumor diagnoses have been steadily climbing. The reason for this upward climb remains unknown.
Brain Tumor Risk Factors and Causes
Primary brain tumors form when brain cells develop mutations in their DNA structure. This causes them to grow and divide abnormally. Healthy cells have a preprogrammed lifespan. Cell health depends on consistent cell death. Mutated or abnormal cells, however, don’t die when they are supposed to, which results to tumor development.
Secondary brain tumors are the most common form of neoplastic growth found in the brain. Malignancies associated with breast cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer, melanoma, neuroblastoma, sarcoma and colon cancer have been known to metastasize (spread) into the brain.
Some of the risk factors that play a role in the development of brain tumors include:
- Age: Brain tumors affect people of all ages, but the older you get, the more susceptible you are to brain tumor development. People 45 years and older are most at risk.
- Race / Ethnicity: Brain tumors develop in Caucasians more than any other race. The meningioma brain tumor, however, expresses a predominance in Blacks.
- Radiation Exposure
- Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals
- Family Medical History: If someone in your family has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, you are more likely to develop such a tumor yourself.
Brain Tumor Signs and Symptoms
Signs and symptoms associated with brain tumors include:
- Frequent Headaches
- Vision Problems: Blurred, double or loss of peripheral vision
- Difficulty Maintaining Balance
- Speech Problems
- Changes in Personality and Behavior
- Hearing Problems
- Hormonal Abnormalities
Brain Tumor Treatment
The most common method of brain tumor treatment is surgery. The surgeon will work to remove as much as the tumor as possible. Brain surgery of any kind is an extremely delicate procedure. Some of the risks associated with brain surgery include:
- Brain Damage
Brain tumors may also be treated radiation therapy, also known as radiotherapy. This therapy uses beams of ionizing radiation to kill abnormal cells.
However infrequent, radiosurgery, chemotherapy and targeted drug therapy can also be used to treat brain tumors.
Brain Tumor Outlook (Prognosis)
The outlook for brain tumor patients depends on their age, overall health, as well as the size, location, and behavior of their tumor. Patients with benign brain tumors are frequently cured and go on to live long, healthy lives. Early-stage brain cancer patients often live for many years after diagnosis. Late-stage brain cancer patients, however, usually only survive for a few months after diagnosis.
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