Brain cancer is a general term for the different types of brain cancers that may occur in the brain. The several types of brain cancer that occur depend on tissue type and these types of cancers determine prognosis. Cancers begin when cells mutate, begin growing and dividing at an alarming rate. The mutation that occurs in these cells causes the cells to lose their original function and drain the body of its resources. Eventually, cancer may cause neural deficits and mental changes due to the mass effect of cancer compressing parts of the brain. The large mass may cause symptoms of intracranial hypertension, which include vomiting, nausea, somnolence, and papilledema. Patients may also report irritation and fatigue due to these cancers. In the US, more 6 out of every 1000 people suffer from brain tumors in the nervous system.
Types of Brain Cancer
Brain tumors are generally the abnormal growths of cells in the brain. Though the growth is termed brain tumor, not all types of brain tumors are cancerous in nature. Cancerous tumors are malignant types of tumors. These tumors grow rapidly and aggressively by overpowering the cells, blood and nutrients as well. They have the ability to spread to other parts as well. Like other cells of the body, they also require blood and nutrients to survive. Those tumors who do not grow, and spread are termed benign. This type of less serious than the malignant ones but they can still pose threats by pressing nearby tissues in the brain. The types of Brain cancer generally include:
Primary Brain Cancer – This is the starting stage of a brain tumor and due to their origination in the brain, they are called primary brain tumors. The most common primary brain tumors are gliomas, meningiomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors (medulloblastomas).
Metastatic Cancer – These types of brain tumors are made of cancerous cells from a tumor elsewhere in the body. They spread to the brain from another tumor in a process called metastasis. It is one of the most common types of a brain tumor.
The cancers with the best prognosis are meningiomas and medulloblastomas. Both occur more frequently in children. Meningiomas arise from the meninges of the central nervous system, while medulloblastomas arise from brain cells in the cerebellum. Surgical resection of these cancers generally results in cure, though chemotherapy is recommended for children with medulloblastoma to prevent reoccurrence of a tumor.
Symptoms of Brain Cancer
Not all forms of Brain tumors show certain symptoms. Some tumors such as the tumors of the pituitary gland are often not found without a CT Scan or MRI is done for another reason. There are numerous symptoms of brain cancer and specific to the type of brain tumors. Some of them are – Headache, Weakness, Clumsiness, difficulty in walking and frequent seizures. Other nonspecific symptoms and signs include - Altered mental status -- changes in concentration, memory, attention, or alertness, Nausea, vomiting, Abnormalities in vision, Difficulty with speech and Gradual changes in intellectual capacity or emotional response.
Treatments to Brain Cancer
The cancers that occur most frequently in adults are glioblastoma multiforme and oligodendrogliomas. Both have a fairly grim prognosis. Surgical resection is recommended for both patients, but often a significant part of the brain must be respected, causing neural deficits as well. Even with added chemotherapy and radiation therapy, median survival rates for both range from a year to 17 months. Glioblastoma multiforme grows rapidly and often has a worse prognosis, but oligodendrogliomas have a slower growth rate. In fact, oligodendrogliomas that are slow growing may simply be watched by a neurosurgeon if the patient is old enough. Unfortunately, while much research has been poured into chemotherapy and ground-breaking virus-based therapy, there is no cure for both. Death from these cancers is an unfortunate yet inescapable fate.
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