Conditions InDepth: Brain Tumors
DefinitionA brain tumor occurs when cells grow uncontrollably in the brain. Cancer 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.Malignant tumors can be fatal if not treated. The ability to cure a cancer depends on patient and tumor-related features. Patient-related features include:
- Overall health
- Willingness to undergo treatment
- Type of cancer
- Site of the origin of the cancer
- How advanced the disease is when it is detected
- Tumor’s response to therapy
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PrimaryThese are tumors which start in the brain or its coverings.
SecondarySecondary tumors begin in an organ other than the brain. They travel to the brain, usually through the blood. All secondary tumors are malignant.Other tumors, such as pituitary adenomas, neuromas, spinal cord tumors, and hydatid cysts, are not covered in this report.
IncidencePrimary brain tumors are the second most common cancer in children and young adults, second only to leukemia. They are the third most common cancer in people between the ages of 15 and 34, fourth between the ages of 35 to 54, and much less common in older adults, where metastatic tumors are more common.
CausesIonizing radiation and several hereditary diseases are the only known causes of brain tumors. The cause of the majority of primary brain cancers is unknown. Viruses and environmental factors may play a role. The causes of secondary brain cancers are the factors that caused the cancer at the site of origin.What are the risk factors for brain tumor?What are the symptoms of brain tumor?How is brain tumor diagnosed?What are the treatments for brain tumor?Are there screening tests for brain tumor?Can brain tumor be prevented?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with brain tumor?Where can I get more information about brain tumor?
Brain tumor. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated May 28, 2013. Accessed June 4, 2013.
Brain tumor. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/brain. Accessed June 4, 2013.
Brain tumors. American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Available at: http://www.aans.org/Patient%20Information/Conditions%20and%20Treatments/Brain%20Tumors.aspx. Accessed June 4, 2013.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 05/2014
- Update Date: 05/17/2014
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