The body normally forms new cells only when they are
needed to replace old or damaged ones. If something
happens to disturb this controlled process, abnormal or
excessive cells are produced. When this occurs a tumor
is developed. This is known as cancer.
When a tumor is developed on the brain, it is
called a brain tumor or brain cancer. Brain tumors can
be benign or malignant (benign being not cancerous and
malignant being cancerous). Both types can be deadly
when dealing with the brain.
Benign brain tumors consist of very slow growing
cells. They have distinct borders and rarely spread to
other locations. When viewed under a microscope, the
cells of a benign tumor have an almost normal
appearance. Even though these tumors sound harmless
they can be life-threatening when located in such a
vital area. Since the skull is unable to expand when
the tumor grows it puts’ pressure on the brain. This
results in damaged brain tissues and if left untreated
a person could die.
A malignant tumor is a tumor that could potentially
invade and destroy important tissues and cells. They
can also spread to other parts of the body
(metastasize). Brain tumors can initially start in the
brain. They can also spread to other parts of the body
from the brain but this rarely happens.
Some tumors may be worse than others. Tumor
staging is used to determine the extent of cancer. The
stage indicates if the cancer has spread and how far.
The stages are listed below:
T = Primary tumor size/extent
T0: Primary tumor not present
T1, T2, T3, T4
The higher the number, the larger the size/extent
of the tumor.
N = Regional lymph node involvement
N0: No lymph node involvement
N1, N2, N3
The higher the number, the more lymph node
M = Distant metastasis
M0: no metastasis
M1: Metastasis present
The cause of brain cancer is unknown. It is likely
they are caused by many factors. Some of these factors
are genetic damage, inheritance, electromagnetic
fields, weak immune system, viruses, injury, diet,
chemicals, hormones, environmental factors, and
The most common and often first symptoms of brain
tumors are headaches and seizures. Later symptoms
include nausea, vomiting, fever, change in pulse, and
trouble breathing. Mental changes may also occur such
as difficulty in communication and speech. In general
symptoms greatly depend on the location of the tumor.
For example if the tumor is on the occipital lobe, you
would have problems with your vision.
Treatment of a tumor depends on its location and
type, but surgical removal of the tumor if the primary
treatment for cancer. Some tumors can be removed
without harm to any part of the brain while others are
in areas that make surgical removal impossible. Most
tumors are treated with a combination of chemotherapy,
radiation therapy, and surgery. A new procedure is
being tried called gamma knife, which is a type of
radio surgery. It uses precise radiation to isolate
and kill the tumor. One positive aspect of this
procedure is that it limits the amount of radiation
that the entire brain receives so less normal brain
cells are destroyed.
✓ Within the next year, over 100,000 people in the
U.S. will be diagnosed with brain cancer.
✓ Brain tumors are the second leading cause of death
in the age group 15-34.
✓ Brain tumors are the second fastest growing cause
of cancer death among those over age 65.
✓ Approximately 44 percent of all primary brain
tumors are benign.
✓ Unlike most benign tumors when located on the brain
they can cause death.
✓ Because of their location brain, tumors are
difficult to treat.
✓ Brain cancer research is underfunded.
✓ The cause of brain cancer is still unknown.
✓ The cure rate for brain cancer is lower than that
of most other types of cancer.