Cancer of the central information processing center of the body. Tumors in the brain can be malignant or benign, and can occur at any age. Only malignant tumors are cancerous. Primary brain tumors, cancer initially forms in the brain tissue. Secondary brain tumor cancers are cancers that have spread to the brain tissue (metastasized) from elsewhere in the body. Secondary brain cancer is named for the organ or tissue in which the cancer begins, such as lung cancer with secondary brain metastasis.
Symptoms of Brain Cancer
- Changes in pupil sizes of both eyes
- Cognitive decline
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Vision or hearing problems
- Changes in pupil sizes of both eyes
- Problems with weakness
- Difficulty in recollecting events
Behavioral and cognitive problems:
- Falling or stumbling
- Spells of dizziness
- Numbness of limbs
Causes of Brain Cancer
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 acquire errors (mutations) in their DNA. These mutations allow cells to grow and divide at increased rates and to continue living when healthy cells would die. The result is a mass of abnormal cells, which forms a tumor.
Primary brain tumors are much less common than being 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:
These tumors begin in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, Ependymoma, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
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.
These are mostly benign 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.
These are the most common cancerous brain tumors in children. A medulloblastoma starts in the lower back part of the brain and tends to spread through the spinal fluid. These tumors are less common in adults, but they do occur.
Primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs) are rare, cancerous tumors that start in embryonic (fetal) cells in the brain. They can occur anywhere in the brain.
Germ cell tumors
Germ cell tumors may develop during childhood where the testicles or ovaries will form. But sometimes germ cell tumors move to other parts of the body, such as the brain.
These rare, noncancerous tumors start near the brain's pituitary gland, which secretes hormones that control many body functions. As the Craniopharyngiomas 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. But in rare cases, a metastatic brain tumor may be the first sign of cancer that began elsewhere in your body.
Secondary brain tumors are far more common than being primary brain tumors.
Any cancer can spread to the brain, but the most common types include:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
TREATMENTS FOR BRAIN CANCER
Surgery is the removal of the tumor and some surrounding healthy tissue during an operation. It is usually the first treatment used for a brain tumor and is often the only treatment needed for a low-grade brain tumor. Removing the tumor can improve neurological symptoms, provide tissue for diagnosis, help make other brain tumor treatments more effective, and, in many instances, improve the prognosis of a person with a brain tumor.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy x-rays or other particles to destroy cancer cells. Doctors may use radiation therapy to slow or stop the growth of the tumor. It is typically given after surgery and possibly along with chemotherapy. A doctor who specializes in giving radiation therapy to treat a tumor is called a radiation oncologist. The most common type of radiation treatment is called external-beam radiation therapy, which is radiation given from a machine outside the body. When radiation treatment is given using implants, it is called internal radiation therapy or brachytherapy. A radiation therapy regimen (schedule) usually consists of a specific number of treatments given over a set period of time.
Conventional radiation therapy.
Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT)
Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Fractionated stereotactic radiation therapy.
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells, usually by stopping the cancer cells’ ability to grow and divide. The goal of chemotherapy can be to destroy cancer cells remaining after surgery, slow a tumor’s growth, or reduce symptoms. Chemotherapy is given by a medical oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating tumors with medication, or a Neuro-oncologist.
Systemic chemotherapy gets into the bloodstream to reach cancer cells throughout the body. Common ways to give chemotherapy include a pill or capsule that is swallowed (orally) or by intravenous (IV) injection placed into a vein using a needle, through a catheter or port, which are used to make injections easier.
For a brain tumor, anti-angiogenesis therapy is one type of targeted therapy used, and others are being researched. It is focused on stopping angiogenesis, which is the process of making new blood vessels. Because a tumor needs the nutrients delivered by blood vessels to grow and spread, the goal of anti-angiogenesis therapies is to “starve” the tumor. Bevacizumab (Avastin) is an anti-angiogenesis therapy used to treat glioblastoma multiforme when prior treatment has not worked. Talk with your doctor about possible side effects of a specific medication and how they can be managed.