Brain Cancer – Can You Catch It?

INTRODUCTION: Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in patients younger than age 35. Primary brain cancer starts in the brain while Metastatic brain cancer starts somewhere else in the body and moves to the brain. Primary brain cancer rarely spreads beyond the central nervous system, and death results from uncontrolled tumor growth within the limited space of the skull. Metastatic (spreading) brain cancer indicates advanced disease and has a poor prognosis.

In the United States, the annual incidence of this disease is around 15 tO 20 cases per 100,000 people. Primary brain tumors account for 50 percent of intracranial tumors and secondary brain cancer accounts for the remaining cases. The annual incidence of primary brain cancer in children is approximately 3 per 100,000. Secondary brain cancer occurs in 20% to 30% of persons with metastatic disease and incidences increases with age. In the US, about 100,000 cases of secondary brain cancer are diagnosed each year.

SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of a brain tumor can vary tremendously from patient to patient. Symptoms usually develop over time and their characteristics depend on the location and size of the tumor. Those caused by a tumor of the meninges (meningioma) depend on which part of the brain is being compressed. They include headaches, as well as problems with eyesight. Symptoms of increasing intracranial pressure plus Nausea,Vomiting, and Headaches are also common symptoms.

TYPES: As previously mentioned above there are 2 types of brain tumors: primary brain tumors that start in the brain and metastatic (secondary) brain tumors that begin with cancer cells that have migrated from other parts of the body to the brain. Each type takes up space in the brain and may cause serious symptoms.

RISKS: Patients with a history of melanoma, lung, breast, colon, or kidney cancer are at risk for secondary brain cancer. Exposure to vinyl chloride is an environmental risk factor for the disease. People who work in these plants or live in close proximity to them have an increased risk for brain cancer. Patients who have received radiation therapy to the head as part of prior treatment for other malignancies are also at an increased risk for new tumors.

Life comes with risk, and no data will ever be perfect. It is simply not possible to rule out every small risk. Also, small risks that require millions of people to be exposed or years of exposure cannot be studied until after a product is on the market and is actually being used by millions of people.

TREATMENT: A histologic examination is neccessary for determining the right treatment and the correct prognosis. Treatment depends age, the stage of the cancer, the type and position of the tumor , and whether the cancer is a primary tumor or brain metastases.

Treatment involves any combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery is the treatment of choice for accessible primary brain tumors, when the patient is in good health. The main treatment option for single metastatic tumors is surgical removal, followed by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. The treatment plan is developed by the oncology team and the patient. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to make decisions about your cancer treatment.

CONCLUSION: Brain cancer has a wide variety of symptoms including seizures, sleepiness, confusion, and changes in behavioral patterns. There are two primary types of brain cancer. Drastic and sometimes life-threatening complications can occur. Symptoms of brain and spinal cord cancer often develop very slowly and gets worse over time unless they are treated.

Statistics indicate that brain cancer is not rare and is very likely to develop in about 20,000 persons OR more per year. People with risk factors such as having a job in an oil refinery, as a chemist, embalmer, or rubber-industry worker show greater rates of the disease. Some families have several members with brain cancer, but heredity as a cause has not been linked to brain tumors. Other risk factors including smoking, radiation exposure, and viral infection (HIV) have been suggested but not proven to cause cancer of the brain. There is no verifiable evidence that brain cancer is contagious, caused by trauma to the head, or by cell phone use (Yet).

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