Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer—Adult
DefinitionA brain tumor is the presence of cancer cells in the brain. There are 2 main types of brain tumors:
- Primary—A tumor that arises in the brain. It can be either malignant or benign. A small benign tumor in a bad location can cause significant problems.
- Secondary—A tumor that spreads to the brain from another cancerous site in the body. All secondary tumors are malignant and metastatic.
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CausesCancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. If cells divide uncontrollably, they form a mass of tissue. The mass is called a growth or tumor. The term cancer usually refers to malignant tumors. These can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not spread. But, it can continue to grow and press structures near it, causing symptoms.The cause of most primary brain tumors is unknown, but it is probably a combination of genetics and environment. Secondary brain tumors are caused by cancer that spreads to the brain from another site in the body.
Risk FactorsFactors that increase your chance of a brain tumor include:
- A condition that affects the immune system
- Family history of certain types of cancer
SymptomsSymptoms depend on the tumor's size and location. A growing tumor will often have fluid build-up around it. This is called edema. Edema puts pressure on the brain. Symptoms may develop gradually or rapidly. Symptoms may include:
- Headache—Most headaches are not caused by brain tumors. Headaches due to brain tumors may have the following features:
- Worsens over a period of weeks to months
- Worse in the morning or causes you to wake during the night
- Different than a normal headache
- Worsens with change of posture, straining, or coughing
- Nausea or vomiting, especially early morning vomiting
- Weakness in arms and/or legs
- Loss of sensation in arms and/or legs
- Difficulty walking
- Hearing loss or vision loss, including double vision
- Speech problems
- Memory problems
- Personality changes
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