Abnormal growth of cells inside the brain causes brain cancer. Growth of cells build other brain components such as membranes, blood vessels etc. Brain cancer can be caused by primary brain cells and it can spread to the brain after being originated from any other part of the body. Brain cancer is commonly called brain tumor but all brain tumors except malignant ones are not cancerous.
Cancers of the brain are the result of unusual proliferation of cells in the brain. Brain cancers can occur from primary brain cells, from the cells forming other brain components or from the development of cancer cells from other body parts that have spread to the brain by the blood.
Brain tumors differ in their development rate and threatening level to cause symptoms. The cells in fast growing, cancerous tumors generally seem to be abnormal microscopically. A grading method is opted by The National Cancer Institute (NCI) to classify tumors. The NCI has specified the following grades:
Metastatic brain tumors are cancerous cells that travel through the bloodstream from a tumor elsewhere developed in the body. The most general cancers that travel to the brain are those originating from the lung, kidney and breast as well as malignant melanoma. The process of traveling of cells to the brain from another tumor is called metastasis. The process of metastasis occurs when cancer cells discard the primary cancer cell and invade either the lymphatic system to reach the blood or directly hit the bloodstream. These cancer cells ultimately reach the brain tissue traveling through the bloodstream where they grow into tumors.
In the US, there were 22,000 people suffering from brain tumors in 2009.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of brain tumors that cause brain cancer are:
Treatment for brain cancer should be customized for each patient. Treatment sessions are based on the patient's age and general health condition as well as the size, location, kind, and state of the tumor. In most cases of brain cancer, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the major kinds of treatments. Sometimes, a combination of treatment is also used.
Treatment of brain cancer is generally complex. Most people with a brain tumor receive surgery.
Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy rays to terminate tumor cells and arrest their growth.
Radiation can be administered in any of the two ways.
Chemotherapy is the use of high power drugs to eliminate tumor cells.
New therapies for cancer are being invented all the time.
Brainstem cancers are tumors that originate in the area of the brain termed as the brain stem, which is the space between the fourth ventricle and aqueduct of Sylvius. Although numerous methods are used to categorize these tumors, but the best of it divides brainstem gliomas into 3 different locations— tectal, diffuse intrinsic pontine, and cervicomedullary. Intrinsic pontine cancer carries a huge prognosis. Better survival rate is associated with the cervicomedullary gliomas and tectal. Tumors are also are divided on the basis of location of occurrence, hemorrhagedirection and stage of tumor growth, intensity of brainstem enlargement, degree of exophytic growth, necrosis, and hydrocephalus.
Survival percentage in primary brain tumors entirely based on the kind of tumor, age, body condition of the patient and the success of surgical tumor removal. Patients with benign gliomas may also survive for several years while survival in cases of the last stage of glioblastoma is restricted to a few months after diagnosis. In single metastatic tumors the prognosis is considered by the primary tumor, and it is generally bleak
Brain Cancer Awareness Month & Ribbon
The exact cause of most brain tumors is not clear being the tumors elsewhere in the body. The under mentioned reasons have been believed to be the possible risk factors for primary brain tumors, but if these factors virtually increase the risk of a brain tumor is yet to be established
Following tests are conducted to detect brain cancer:
The doctor during neurological examination asks about health history of the patient and his family. This information and neurological test result jointly helps to know if the person has brain cancer and the location of the cancerous tumor.
The neurological examination includes test of eye, ear, strength, thinking ability, sensation, balancing efficiency, coordination, and spontaneous reactions.
During angiogram X-ray pictures of brain’s arteries and veins are taken. To show the affected area clearly a contrast dye is injected into the main arteries of the head prior to the test.
During brain scan a contrast dye is injected into a vein in the upper limb. The brain tumor soaks more dye than ordinary brain tissue and becomes clearly visible on the scan.
Doctors take 3-D pictures of the brain from different angles while scanning the head. After combining these pictures, a computer produces detailed and cross-sectional view that demonstrates abnormalities in the brain.
Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI)
The flow of water through white matter areas of the brain is measured during DTIs. The test shows the brain structure and the circuitry or wiring system inside it. Thus DTIs help in detecting the changes.
A small hole is drilled in the skull and a narrow, hollow needle is inserted into the tumor to remove a sample of the tumor. The sample then examined under microscope to know whether the tumor is cancerous or not.
In case of stereotactic biopsy the needle biopsy uses a computer and a 3-D scanning machine to locate the tumor.
Some other tests conducted to detect brain cancer are:
It can be said that there is no specific way to prevent brain cancer. However, understanding the disease, early diagnosis and proper treatment can lessen the threat of metastatic brain cancer. According to experts the following preventive measures may lessen the risk of brain cancer:
As per experts’ estimation, treatment cost of brain cancer could be approximately $450,000. The treatment includes stay in hospital along with an attendant, food, doctor fee, and check up, surgery, medication and nursing.
Side effects of brain cancer treatment are temporary. Possible side effects of different treatment of brain cancer are: