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Guide to Brain Cancer

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

What Is It?
Like any other part of your body, your brain can have a tumor, which happens when cells grow out of control and form a solid mass. Because your brain has many types of cells, it can get many kinds of tumors. Some are cancer, and others aren’t. Some grow quickly, others slowly. But because your brain is your body’s control center, you have to take all of them seriously.

Brain Tumors
Your skull is hard, your brain is soft, and there’s really no room in your head for anything else. As a tumor grows, it presses on your brain because it has nowhere to go. That can affect how you think, see, act, and feel. So with brain tumors, whether it’s cancer or not, what matters is where it’s located, how quickly and easily it can grow or spread, and if your doctor can take it out.

Secondary Brain Cancer
Most people who have brain cancer (about 100,000 each year) have this kind, which means cancer in some other part of your body has spread to your brain. About half of all brain cancers start as lung cancer. Other cancers that can spread to your brain include:

chest cancer
Colon cancer
Kidney cancer
Leukemia
Lymphoma
Melanoma (skin cancer)

Primary Brain Tumors
In adults, the most common tumors that start in the brain are meningiomas and gliomas.

Meningiomas make up more than 35% of all primary brain tumors. They don’t grow from brain tissue itself, but from cells in the brain’s covering. Their non-cancerous location and growth make them serious.

The most common cancerous brain tumors — almost 1 in 5 — are glioblastomas. They’re a type of glioma, tumors that start in your glial cells. They spread quickly and are often fatal.

Overall, there’s an increase in people being diagnosed with brain tumors. That may be in part because technology makes them easier to see. But researchers are also looking into other possible causes, such as things in the environment

Other Types
The different kinds of primary brain tumors are all named after where in your brain they start. Besides gliomas, they include adenomas (in your pituitary gland), chordomas (skull and spine), medulloblastomas (cerebellum), and sarcomas (brain tissue), among others.

Grades
Doctors label brain tumors with a grade from 1 to 4. Low-grade tumors (grade 1) aren’t cancer. They grow slowly and don’t usually spread. They can usually be cured if your doctor can take them out with surgery. At the other end, high-grade tumors (grade 4) are cancer. They grow fast, spread quickly, and typically can’t be cured. Grades 2 and 3 fall in between. Usually, grade 2 isn’t cancer and grade 3 is.

Symptoms
These depend on the kind of tumor you have and where it is, but you may:

Act in ways you normally wouldn’t
Feel sleepy throughout the day
Find it hard to express yourself, like you can’t find the right words or feel confused
Get bad headaches often, especially in the morning
Have problems seeing, like blurred or doubled vision
Lose your balance easily or have problems walking
Have seizures

Risk Factors: Radiation
It’s usually not clear what puts you at risk for a primary brain tumor — one that starts in your brain. But one known cause is radiation directed at your head to treat another medical condition, like leukemia. In most of these cases, the benefit of radiation outweighs the risk that it might cause cancer in the future.

Risk Factors: Age
You can get a brain tumor at any age, but children and adults tend to get different types. They’re much more common in adults over 50 than in younger people and children.

source: Webmd

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