The brain can develop cancer in a few different ways. Cancer that actually begins in the cells of the brain is typically referred to as a primary brain tumor. Cancer can also spread to the brain cells from other parts of the body. When this occurs, it's known as metastatic cancer.
Primary brain tumors usually derive their name from the part of the brain that they infect. For example, an astrocytoma affects brain cells called astrocytes, and a meningioma develops in the meninges portion of the brain. Medulloblastoma, ependymoma and brain stem glioma are other examples of the many different types of brain tumors that can develop.
Symptoms of a brain tumor can often mimic other conditions and may be difficult to identify as brain cancer. Some possibilities for brain cancer symptoms include headache, seizures, vision or hearing loss, difficulty with speech, changes in behavior or even stroke. Because these symptoms frequently overlap with other neurological disorders, a brain scan is usually required to determine the presence of a tumor. A biopsy, in which a sample of tissue is taken in order to look for tumors, is also frequently required to determine the presence of cancer, though sometimes this biopsy is performed at the same time as the treatment of the cancer to minimize the invasiveness of the procedure.
Treatment of Brain Cancer
Possible treatments for brain tumors vary quite a bit based on the size and location of the tumor in the brain, as well as the person's overall health and risk factors. Usually, however, the first step is removal of the tumor, usually through some type of surgical procedure. After that, chemotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination of the two treatments are used to eradicate the cancer from surrounding tissue and hopefully prevent its recurrence.
SOURCES: U.S. National Cancer Institute; National Brain Tumor Society.
New biologic could help drive down the cost of care, agency says
Research is early, but appears promising
Discovery of triggers that make glioblastoma resistant to chemo offers hope for future treatments, study authors say
That flaw seems to increase risk of a type of brain tumor later in life, researchers report
The median survival for glioblastoma patients is about 15 months, oncologists say
Aggressive tumor known as glioblastoma was spotted during procedure to remove blood clot
Combo therapy may also extend survival of glioblastoma patients, but more research needed
1 in 4 kids who lived through cancer developed another cancer by age 45, study finds
Study found significant increase in survival 2 years after diagnosis
Still, more progress is needed and racial disparities remain, U.S. report finds
Taking triple the daily recommendation didn't lower risk in older women, but larger trials are underway
Chemo plus radiation appears to extend survival of older glioblastoma patients, study says
Researchers find no evidence of cytomegalovirus in tumor tissue
Certain glioblastomas respond to anti-angiogenic compounds, study finds
Brain cancer supplants leukemia as the leading killer
But more needs to be done to battle tougher tumors, guard the health of survivors
International committee finds thinner folks less likely to develop variety of malignancies
Higher levels of education linked to increased risk of brain tumor in new study.
But perhaps it's because they just pay more attention to their health, experts say
Although larger procedure carries more risk, odds of longer survival are higher, researchers say
Experimental device seems to help more chemotherapy reach tumors, researchers report
Injectable virus appears to extend lives of glioblastoma patients
Rodents exposed to phone radiation actually lived longer than unexposed animals, reviewers point out
Discovery might eventually lead to better treatment for glioblastoma multiforme
Scientists identify three genes thought to raise risk for glioma tumors
Those with slow-growing gliomas lived five years longer, on average, than those who got only radiation
Combined with verbal checks, it allowed surgeons to protect areas where speech occurs
Cancer-fighting drugs were able to reach tumors, but the technique still in preliminary stage
But types of tumors start to vary as people age, researchers add
Researchers found 30 percent lower odds for those with respiratory allergies and eczema
Study finds fewer long-term side effects from proton radiotherapy
Study found using it alongside follow-up chemo prolonged survival by about five months
Specialized radiation, immunotherapy drug have removed signs of lesions on former president's brain
Long-term effects of powerful treatments merit further study, experts say
Emits electric pulses designed to thwart tumor growth
Study suggests brain has to use different regions than normal to get the job done
Glioma patients appear to have early immune response, study suggests
And physical activity associated with lower odds of meningioma, though these tumors are considered rare
Study of almost 100 children also finds greater survival rate for girls than boys after surgery
Brain volume dropped, other structural changes seen in small study
Study finds rate is twice as high for some cancers
Chemo improvements have likely played a role, researchers say
Research shows promise; could be used in humans as soon as this summer, study author says