The term brain cancer although often used by the public is actually not the term often used by the medical community. Primary brain tumor is the term used by the medical community for tumors arising from the brain. In children, most brain tumors are primary tumors. In adults, however, most tumors in the brain have spread from the lung, breast, or other parts of the body. When this happens, the disease is not brain cancer. The tumor in the brain is a secondary tumor and it is named after the organ or tissue from it began.
A brain tumor is any intracranial tumor created by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division, normally either found in the brain itself, in the cranial nerves, in the brain envelopes, skull, pituitary, and pineal gland or from cancers primarily located in other organs. Although they can affect any part of the brain, primary brain tumors in children are generally located in the posterior cranial fossil; and in adults, in the anterior two-thirds of the cerebral hemispheres.
The most common brain tumors or brain cancers are gliomas, which start in the glial (supportive) tissue. Several types of gliomas include astrocytomas, ependymomas, and oligodendrogliomas.
The development of certain types of primary brain tumors or brain cancers has been linked to exposure to radiation, especially if exposure took place in childhood. It is generally believed that higher radiation doses increase the risk of eventually developing brain cancer. Radiation-induced brain tumors can take anywhere from ten to thirty years to form. The exposure to vinyl chloride and/or ionizing radiation is the only known risk factor; other than these there are no known environmental factors that can be associated with brain tumors. The so-called tumor suppressor genes mutations and deletions are incriminated in some forms of brain tumors. Inherited diseases such as Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 2, and multiple endocrine neoplasia of a patient pose a high risk of having a brain tumor.
Symptoms of brain tumor and brain cancer are caused by the damage to the vital tissue and by pressure on the brain as the tumor grows within the limited space in the skull. If a brain tumor grows very slowly, its symptoms may appear so gradually that they are sometimes overlooked for a long time. The most frequent symptoms of brain tumors or brain cancer include headache, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, seizures, memory loss, weakness, visual changes, problems with speech and language, personality changes, and thought processing problems. These symptoms may be caused by brain tumors or by other problems. If a person is experiencing such symptoms, consulting a doctor right away is strongly advised.
A person diagnosed with brain cancer or brain tumor will undergo treatments that include surgery (surgical resection), which is recommended for the majority of brain tumors. It is rare in primary brain tumors to be cured without surgical resection. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiation therapy.