What is Brain Cancer - New Advancements

Brain Cancer Types

Scientist are making great strides in the treatment of brain cancer while the average person asks the question exactly "What is Brain Cancer? There are two main types of brain cancer, one which is called primary brain cancer because it actually starts in the brain. The second type is metastatic brain cancer, as it starts somewhere else in the body and moves to the brain. Not all brain tumors are cancerous or malignant, but if they are the cells grow very quickly. Fortinately 75 percent of brain tumors are benign.

According to the National Cancer Institute doctors can seldom explain why one person develops a brain tumor and another does not, so the exact cause of brain tumors is really unknown. Primary brain cancer cells begin its growth in the substance of the brain, spinal cord or nerves. The metastatic brain tumors spreading from other parts are most often from lung cancer, breast cancer or colon cancer.

Xray of Brain Tumor

source brain cancer
source brain cancer

Statistics about Brain Tumors

Over 600,000 people in the US are living with a primary brain tumor and over 28,000 of these cases are among children under the age of 20 (over 7% total)

Metastatic brain tumors typically occur in 20% to 40% of people with cancer.

Approximately 210,000 people in the US will be diagnosed with the primary or metastatic brain tumor this year.

Among children under 20 years of age, brain tumors are the most common form of a solid tumor and the second leading cause of cancer related deaths following leukemia.

Cancer treatment is very complicated because there are over 120 different types of brain tumors.

Most Common Types of Brain Tumors for Adults

Gliomas are tumors which grow in the glial cells, helping to support the critical areas of the brain and are responsible for 42% of all adult brain tumors. These tumors are categorized by the types of cells they affect.

Astrocytomas are star shaped cells which protect neurons, and cancers in this category are graded from 1 to 4, with the growth being more aggressive at number four. The grade of this cancer determines the outcome for the patient.

Oligodendrogliomas cells make myelin, which is a fatty substance that protects nerve cells. This type of cancer primarily affects people over the age of 45 and makes up 4% of brain tumors. It is typically sensitive to treatment and half of the patients with this type of cancer are alive after five years.

Ependymoma is a rare type of cancer (making up 2%) and the ependymal cells line the pathways which carries cerebrospinal fluid throughout the, brain and spinal cord.

Meningiomas affect the tissue that forms a protective outer covering of the brain and spine and one quarter of brain and spinal tumors are meningiomas, but up to 85% of them are be benign.

Heartbreaking Child with Brain Cancer

source cokidcancer.org
source cokidcancer.org

Cancer Symptoms in Children

Medulloblastomas are a common brain tumor in children, usually diagnosed before the age of 10. It occurs in the cerebellum, which is crucial to muscular coordination and movement. Some scientists believe this cancer arises from fetal cells that remain in the cerebellum after birth, but the tumors grow quickly and can invade other portions of the brain. Fortunately this cancer is rare but does affect about 500 children annually in the United States.

The children's symptoms are similar with a few difference from adults:

  • Headaches occurring in the morning, which improve throughout the day
  • Headaches that occur while coughing or during physical activity
  • Vomiting soon after awakening
  • Clumsiness or unsteadiness
  • Seizures
  • Swollen optic nerve
  • Increased sleep

Symptoms of Brain Tumors

Symptoms of Brain Cancer for Adults

The following list is some of the more common brain cancer symptoms and signs:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches, which are usually worse in the morning
  • Attention to changes in your ability to talk, hear or see
  • Problems with balance or walking
  • Problems with thinking or memory
  • Tingling or numbness in your arms or legs
  • Muscles jerking or twitching

Brain and CNS Types of Tumors Chart

source STDBF
source STDBF

Treatment of Cancer

Currently surgeons can remove about 99% of most brain tumors, but the small cells are left to multiply swiftly, often resisting treatment. One of the more exciting research projects is a new vaccine that scientist say will actually help cure a patient of brain cancer. It is still in the research stage but looks promising. It is specifically designed to affect glioblastoma

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation, which is only available at eight centers in the United States. It has been found to be very effective in treating pediatric cancers. Its precision and ability to target tumors makes it very effective, plus there are less treatment side effects.

At the present time most brain tumors are treated by surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy used individually or in combination. There are also hormonal treatments, which are drugs designed to prevent cancer growth by preventing the cells from their continued growth and division. There is also targeted therapy, antibodies and biological response modifiers, which all work in a similar fashion.

While complementary and alternative medicines are not typically practiced by conventional Western medicine, they are used effectively in some other countries and include herbal, animal derived and mind-body approaches to treating cancer. At this point the scientific evidence about the efficacy of these treatments is either inconclusive or refuted. It is well documented, however, that our minds are powerful and we might have more control over what is happening in our bodies than we realize. Certainly meditation and yoga have been shown to be very effective in stress reduction and other types of diseases.

New Brain Cancer Treatment Offers Hope

Summary

Since no two brain tumors are exactly alike, the prognosis is dependent upon several factors, which include the type of tumor, the location, the response to treatment, an individual's age and overall health status.

An individual with a primary malignant brain or central nervous system tumor will typically live five years or longer. For children, over 72% will survive a brain tumor, but they may be left with life long-term side effects.

Obviously brain cancer is something that is scary to even think about, but it is good to be aware of the most common symptoms.

© 2011 Pamela Oglesby

More by this Author


Comments 40 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

Comprehensive, clearly written and well documented hub about brain cancer treatments and advancements. Thanks for sharing this useful information. Voted up, useful and interesting.


JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

Pam, a very well written and informative hub. Good Job!


dallas93444 profile image

dallas93444 5 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

Thanks for sharing. Flag up!


Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Very Well researched and presented Pamella. A well written article that will be helpful to many.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Happyboomernurse, I'm glad you liked the hub and I appreciate your comments.

JY, thank you for the compliment as it's very much appreciated.

dallas, Thanks so much for your comment.

Cardisa, I appreciate your very thoughtful comment.


Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Pamela, thank you for sharing this hub - useful information to all.


parrster profile image

parrster 5 years ago from Oz

A friend of ours had a child with brain cancer. They first realised something was wrong when one of the child's eye's developed an off-kilter appearance. Sadly within a few months it claimed her life. Cancer anywhere is awful, but there is a certain elevated horror to cancer of the brain. Voted up and interesting.


Coolmon2009 profile image

Coolmon2009 5 years ago from Texas, USA

Interesting article, I didn't know there were that many types of cancers. Rated up!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Cloveleaf, Thanks so much for your comment.

parrster, It is awful to lose a child this way and brain cancer is an awful disease. I appreciate your comments.

Coolmon, Thank you for your comments.


always exploring profile image

always exploring 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

Thank you Pamela, this really hits home, my Sis. Bea died from brain cancer ( metastatic from cervical cancer ) Very interesting article, well researched, and easy to understand.


Om Paramapoonya profile image

Om Paramapoonya 5 years ago

This is such an interesting and scary topic. Thanks for sharing this useful info with us, Pamela. :)


tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

This is a very well written and informative hub. I have a brother-in-law who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After they found his, both of his children were diagnosed with brain tumors. They have undergone many treatments and are in remission now. It is scary to think how common this is becoming. Thanks for sharing this information.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

always exploring, I'm so sorry to hear about your sister. I appreciate your comments.

Om Paramapoonya, I agree that it is a scary topic. I appreciate your comments.

tipoague, I haven't heard about so many people in one family with brain cancer. I am sure glad they are in remission but what a stressful time for the whole family. Thanks for your comments.


HealthyHanna profile image

HealthyHanna 5 years ago from Utah

I didn't know brain cancer was such a common cancer.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Hanna, Its sad but true. Thanks for your comment.


stefanwirawan1 profile image

stefanwirawan1 5 years ago from Malaysia

A well informative and structured article.thanks for information


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

stefanwirawan, Thank you for your comments.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, this is a well documented hub, sadly so many people do suffer from this, and I must admit that I didn't realise a lot of childrens were caused by fetal matter, really well done, nell


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Nell, I'm glad you found the hub interesting even though it is a tough topic. Thanks for your comments.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Very sweet article Pamela. Excellently written. This is a subject I haven't looked into for a while now. New advancements are key, but in the near future, at least in America, funding is going to become limited. That's due to other factors. It was definitely an interesting read. I've bookmarked it, voted up. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Cagsil, I think you are writing about funding in America and in Europe also. I think the vaccine is exciting news and hope it works. Thank you for your comments.


Cagsil profile image

Cagsil 5 years ago from USA or America

Hey Pamela, just funding in and of itself is going to become limited in the future, if things presently continue on course. Not just America, but Globally, funding it going to be an issue. New advancements only come when funding the fundamental infrastructure(necessary companies). Yes, any newly developed vaccines are wonderful, providing the outcome is positive more so than negative. I hope it works as well. You're welcome too. :)


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

Pamela, you never fail to astound, amaze me with fabulous work like this one. You are a master in writing such of medical information like this one. I know that cancer is one of deadly disease, we have more care about this and better know earlier . But the most important thing is we can give support to someone who got cancer, even for friend or our family. They need support to stay alive, but I believe God never sleep and there's another way to cure cancer. I hope the best for us. Vote up as always.

Prasetio:)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Cagsil, Thanks for your added comments.

prasetio, I agree with your beliefs and yes, family and friend support is necessary. Thanks so much for your comments.


ahsima 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing the great hub and symptoms too. It is well informed and updated me. Is there any precaution there to overcome this.

Ahsima

http://www.m6.net


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

ahsima, They don't know what cause primary brain cancer, so just healthy living is the best thing to do. Thanks for your comments.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

Excellent information here, Pamela. It is so sad to know that there are children who also suffer from these tumors. I'm glad you pointed out the symptoms for both. Voted up and across.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Denise, I didn't realize so many children suffered either until I did the research and its heartbreaking. Thank you for your comments.


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

This is an awesome and interesting hub. Thank you for doing so much hard work in research and give us all these information. Keep well and take care.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Hello, I'm glad you enjoyed the hub and I appreciate your comments.


MartieCoetser profile image

MartieCoetser 5 years ago from South Africa

Pamela, your hubs are always such a pleasure to read. You have the wonderful talent of given the most important facts short and sweet and so easy to understand.

My mother’s sister had died of brain cancer at the age of 48, so I have a neurotic fear for this horrible disease, triggered by the first sign of a headache.

Thank you for this very useful and interesting article.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

Martie, I can understand your fear when you lose a close relative that died from this awful disease. I appreciate your comments.


moneycop profile image

moneycop 5 years ago from JABALPUR

my eyes were stretched while reading this...really to whom this happens...who he/she bears......cud u elaborate Ependymoma...i haven't got it clearly. thanks!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 5 years ago from United States Author

moneycop, This cancer is not as common as some others but very serious as the treatments are limited. We all hope that we never get this cancer. Thank you for your comment.


braincancersux profile image

braincancersux 4 years ago

Great article! I was diagnosed with a glioma at age 33. I had surgery in 2009 and had 98% of a Grade II Oligo removed. No radiation or chemo for me yet, just being monitored every four months. I love that you're getting awareness out there!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

braincancersux, I wish you a complete recovery and thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States Author

Thank you for your comment.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Adriean, You are absolutely right. Actually 75% of brain tumors are benign, but cancerous tumors tend to grow very quickly. Thank you for your comments.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 2 years ago from America

Another symptom of brain cancer is a swollen red face, dizzeness to the point of passing out. Most causes of lung cancer metastasize to the brain.

Interesting article.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

moonlake, Thanks for adding those syptoms. This is surely an awful thing to happen to anyone. I appreciate your comments.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working