Facts | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment options
brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue inside the skull. This growth
can place pressure on tissue within the skull and impair function. Primary
brain tumors are tumors that originate in the brain. Although the cause
of most brain tumors is unknown, the leading cause is believed to be abnormal
growth among cells surrounding neurons.
year, more than 100,000 people will be diagnosed with a brain or spinal
cord tumor. Brain tumors can happen to anyone. While they occur across
all age groups, they more frequently appear in children under the age
of 15 and in older adults. Adults are more likely to develop a metastatic
brain tumor, while spinal cord tumors seem to occur more in younger adults.
to the Central Brain Tumor Registry of the United States, about 10.9 out
of every 100,000 people in the U.S. will have a benign or malignant brain
tumor in their lifetime. Out of every case of cancer annually, brain tumors
represent only 1.3 percent. The incidence of malignant brain tumors is
6.1 per 100,000 people.
There are many different types of brain tumors. They are
generally categorized according to the kind of cells/tissue from which
they form. Gliomas, which form from glial cells, are the most common type
of adult brain tumors, particularly astrocytomas. Grade I is the least
aggressive astrocytoma, while Grade IV is the most aggressive. Symptoms
and treatment depend on its location and grade. Other types categories
of brain tumors include non-gliomas, such as pineal tumors and pituitary
tumors, and other gliomas such as ganglioneuroma and brain stem glioma.
Metastatic tumors are tumors that originated in another part of the body
but have spread to the brain. Pituitary tumors are found in the pituitary
gland, a small dime-sized organ located in the center of the brain that
generates hormones. A pituitary tumor can therefore result in hormonal
imbalances and related problems throughout the body. These problems can
include headaches, vision problems, infertility and/or menstrual problems
in women, abnormal growth and other skin and body changes.
of brain tumors generally develop slowly and worsen over time unless they
or hearing problems
and cognitive problems
diagnosis of a brain tumor can imply cancer, but it is important
to note that not all brain tumors are cancerous. Some non-cancerous,
benign tumors can be just as dangerous as cancerous tumors if
they form in the brain stem or spinal cord. "Brain Tumors
in Children," a book published in 1994, reports encouraging
statistics that state that 60 percent of all children with brain
or spinal cord tumors will survive into adulthood.
conducting a neurological exam, your doctor will use special imaging
techniques such as a CT scan or MRI or lab tests such as an EEG. Also,
a biopsy allows the doctor the diagnose the particular type of brain
tumor by taking a sample of tissue from a suspected tumor.
chemotherapy and surgery are the most common types of treatments for brain
for brain tumors aims at removing the entire tumor, since residual tumor
cells can cause recurrence of the tumor. After surgery, radiation may
be used to eliminate the portion of the tumor that could not be removed
surgically. Radiation may also be used when surgery is too risky. Chemotherapy
is typically injected into a vein or ingested and aims at destroying tumor
radiation therapy (IMRT) can treat brain tumors of any shape or size while
at the same time sparing the greatest amount of normal tissue. This highly
advanced technique involves using digital images of the tumor to coordinate
a three-dimensional approach in which beams of radiation are delivered
to it. The radiation is controlled, and, therefore, can better target
the region where the tumor resides with a more concentrated dosage.
radiosurgery represents a significant advance within the field of spinal
tumor treatment and is expected to eventually become the standard treatment
for primary and metastatic tumors.
For More Information
information about clinical trials related to brain tumor treatment, please
call the National Cancer Institute for a listing of NCI-sponsored trials
at 1-800-4CANCER, or visit their Web site at http://www.braintumor.org
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