About brain tumors, general
What is brain tumors, general?
A brain tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain.
Many different types of brain tumors exist. Some brain tumors are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). Brain tumors can begin in your brain (primary brain tumors), or cancer can begin in other parts of your body and spread to your brain (secondary, or metastatic, brain tumors).
How quickly a brain tumor grows can vary greatly. The growth rate as well as location of a brain tumor determines how it will affect the function of your nervous system.
Brain tumor treatment options depend on the type of brain tumor you have, as well as its size and location.
What are the symptoms for brain tumors, general?
Symptoms of brain tumors depend on the location and size of the tumor. Some tumors cause direct damage by invading brain tissue and some tumors cause pressure on the surrounding brain.
You’ll have noticeable symptoms when a growing tumor is putting pressure on your brain tissue.
Headaches are a common symptom of a brain tumor. You may experience headaches that:
- are worse in the morning when waking up
- occur while you’re sleeping
- are made worse by coughing, sneezing, or exercise
You may also experience:
- Blurred vision or double vision
- seizures (especially in adults)
- weakness of a limb or part of the face
- a change in mental functioning
Other common symptoms include:
- memory loss
- difficulty writing or reading
- changes in the ability to hear, taste, or smell
- decreased alertness, which may include drowsiness and loss of consciousness
- difficulty swallowing
- dizziness or vertigo
- eye problems, such as drooping eyelids and unequal pupils
- uncontrollable movements
- hand tremors
- loss of balance
- loss of bladder or bowel control
- numbness or tingling on one side of the body
- trouble speaking or understanding what others are saying
- changes in mood, personality, emotions, and behavior
- difficulty walking
- muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg
What are the causes for brain tumors, general?
Brain tumors that begin in the brain
Primary brain tumors originate in the brain itself or in tissues close to it, such as in the brain-covering membranes (meninges), cranial nerves, pituitary gland or pineal gland.
Primary brain tumors begin when normal cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. A cell's DNA contains the instructions that tell a cell what to do. The mutations tell the cells to grow and divide rapidly and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells, which forms a tumor.
In adults, primary brain tumors are much less common than are secondary brain tumors, in which cancer begins elsewhere and spreads to the brain.
Many different types of primary brain tumors exist. Each gets its name from the type of cells involved. Examples include:
- Gliomas. These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
- Meningiomas. A meningioma is a tumor that arises from the membranes that surround your brain and spinal cord (meninges). Most meningiomas are noncancerous.
- Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas). These are benign tumors that develop on the nerves that control balance and hearing leading from your inner ear to your brain.
- Pituitary adenomas. These are tumors that develop in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. These tumors can affect the pituitary hormones with effects throughout the body.
- Medulloblastomas. These cancerous brain tumors are most common in children, though they can occur at any age. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid.
- Germ cell tumors. Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors affect other parts of the body, such as the brain.
- Craniopharyngiomas. These rare tumors start near the brain's pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the craniopharyngioma slowly grows, it can affect the pituitary gland and other structures near the brain.
Cancer that begins elsewhere and spreads to the brain
Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors are tumors that result from cancer that starts elsewhere in your body and then spreads (metastasizes) to your brain.
Secondary brain tumors most often occur in people who have a history of cancer. Rarely, a metastatic brain tumor may be the first sign of cancer that began elsewhere in your body.
In adults, secondary brain tumors are far more common than are primary brain tumors.
Any cancer can spread to the brain, but common types include:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
What are the treatments for brain tumors, general?
The treatment of a brain tumor depends on:
- the type of tumor
- the size of the tumor
- the location of the tumor
- your general health
The most common treatment for malignant brain tumors is surgery. The goal is to remove as much of the cancer as possible without causing damage to the healthy parts of the brain.
While the location of some tumors allows for safe removal, other tumors may be located in an area that limits how much of the tumor can be removed. Even partial removal of brain cancer can be beneficial.
Risks of brain surgery include infection and bleeding. Clinically dangerous benign tumors are also surgically removed. Metastatic brain tumors are treated according to guidelines for the type of original cancer.
Surgery can be combined with other treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help you recover after neurosurgery.
What are the risk factors for brain tumors, general?
Risk factors for brain tumors include:
Only about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers are genetically inherited, or hereditary. It’s rare for a brain tumor to be genetically inherited. Talk with your doctor if several people in your family have received a brain tumor diagnosis. Your doctor can recommend a genetic counselor for you.
The risk for most types of brain tumors increases with age.
Being exposed to certain chemicals, such as those you might find in a work environment, can increase your risk for brain cancer. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health keeps a list of potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in workplaces.
Exposure to radiation
People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation have an increased risk of brain tumors. You can be exposed to ionizing radiation through high-radiation cancer therapies. You can also be exposed to radiation from nuclear fallout.
The nuclear power plant incidents in Fukushima and Chernobyl are examples of how people can be exposed to ionizing radiation.
No history of chickenpox
According toa 2016 review published in Cancer Medicine, having a history of childhood chickenpox is associated with a 21 percent lower risk of developing glioma.
Is there a cure/medications for brain tumors, general?
A brain tumor, general, is the mass growth of abnormal cells in the brain. There are different types of brain tumors, some are noncancerous (benign), and some brain tumors are cancerous (malignant). This can begin in the brain or some type of cancer begins in other parts of the body and spreads to the brain. The treatment of brain tumors depends on the location, size and type of tumor.
1. Treatment of brain tumors depends on the location of the tumor, the type of tumor, the size of the tumor, and the general health of your body.
2. Surgery is the most common way to remove parts of the tumor without damage to other parts of the brain. Sometimes partial removal of tumors can be beneficial. These types of surgery can cause infection and bleeding in the brain.
3. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are required in parallel with the treatment of brain tumors and after neurosurgery.
4. Physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy can help you to recover.
New onset or change in pattern of headaches,Headaches that gradually become more frequent and more severe,Unexplained nausea or vomiting,Vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision,Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg,Difficulty with balance,Speech difficulties,Feeling very tired,Confusion in everyday matters,Difficulty making decisions,Inability to follow simple commands,Personality or behavior changes,Seizures, especially in someone who doesn't have a history of seizures,Hearing problems
Mass or growth of abnormal cells in your brain
Surgery,Chemotherapy,Radiation therapy,Targeted therapy,Hormonal therapy,Immunotherapy