Brain Cancer

Tuesday, July 21, 2009 · 0 comments

Brain cancer is a disease of the brain where cancer cells grow in the brain tissue.Cancer cells grow to form a mass of cancer tissue that interferes with brain tissue functions such as muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions. Tumors composed of cancer cells are called malignant tumors, and those composed of noncancerous cells are called benign tumors. Cancer cells that develop from brain tissue are called primary brain tumors.

There are two types of brain tumors: primary brain tumors that originate in the brain and metastatic brain tumors that originate from cancer cells that have migrated from other parts of the body. 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 brain cancer indicates advanced disease and has a poor prognosis.

The causes of brain tumors are not known. Researchers are trying to solve this problem. The more they can find out about the causes of brain tumors, the better the chances of finding ways to prevent them. Genetic factors, various environmental toxins, radiation and cigarette smoking have all been linked to cancers of the brain, but in most cases, no clear cause can be shown. The following factors have been proposed as possible risk factors for primary brain tumors. Whether these factors actually increase the risk of a brain tumor is not known for sure. Doctors can seldom explain why one person develops a brain tumor and another does not.

There are many symptoms possible depending on the location of the brain tumor. Not all brain tumors cause symptoms, and some are found mainly after death. The most common symptoms of brain cancer are weakness, difficulty walking,seizures and headaches. Other common symptoms are nausea,vomiting, blurry vision, or a change in a person's alertness, mental capacity, memory, speech, or personality. These symptoms can also occur in people that do not have brain cancer, and none of these symptoms alone or in combination can predict that a person has brain cancer. A few brain cancers produce few or no symptoms.

The initial test is an interview and physical examination of the person by a competent health-care provider. The results of this interaction will determine if other specific tests need to be done.The most frequently used test to detect brain cancer is a CT-SCAN . This test resembles a series of x-rays and is not painful, although sometimes a dye needs to be injected into the vein for better pictures of some internal brain structures. Another test that is gaining popularity because of its high sensitivity for detecting anatomic changes in the brain is MRI .This test also resembles a series of x-rays and shows the brain structures in detail better than CT. MRI is not as widely available as CT scanning. If the tests show evidence of brain cancer, then other doctors such as neurosurgeons and neurologists that specialize in treating brain ailments will be consulted to help determine what should be done to treat the patient.

Treatment for a brain tumor depends on a number of factors. Among these are the type, location, and size of the tumor, as well as the patient's age and general health. Treatment methods and schedules often vary for children and adults. A treatment plan is developed to fit each patient's needs. Surgery, radiation theraphy and chemotheraphy are the major treatment categories for most brain cancers. Individual treatment plans often include a combination of these treatments. Surgical therapy attempts to remove the tumor by cutting it away from normal brain tissue. Radiation therapy attempts to destroy tumor cells by using high energy radiation focused onto the tumor. Chemotherapy attempts to destroy tumor cells using chemicals that are designed to destroy specific types of cancer cells. All treatments attempt to spare normal brain cells. The best treatment for brain cancer is designed by the team of cancer specialists in conjunction with the wishes of the patient.

Cancer treatment often causes side effects. These side effects occur because treatment to destroy cancer cells damages some healthy cells as well. The side effects of cancer treatment vary. They depend on the type of treatment used and on the area being treated. Also, each person reacts differently. Attempts are made to plan the patient's therapy to keep side effects to a minimum.A craniotomy is a major operation. The surgery may damage normal brain tissue, and edema may occur. Weakness, coordination problems, personality changes, and difficulty in speaking and thinking can result. Patients can also have seizures. In fact, for a short time after surgery, symptoms may be worse than before. Most of the side effects of surgery lessen or disappear with time. Patients receiving radiation therapy may become very tired as treatment continues. Resting is important, but doctors usually advise their patients to try to stay reasonably active. Radiation therapy to the scalp causes most patients to lose their hair. When it grows back, the new hair is sometimes softer and may be a slightly different color. In some cases, hair loss is permanent. The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the drugs that are given. In general, anticancer drugs affect rapidly growing cells, such as blood cells that fight infection, cells that line the digestive tract, and cells in the hair follicles. As a result, patients may have a lowered resistance to infection, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores. Patients also may have less energy and lose their hair. These side effects usually go away gradually after treatment stops.
Visit for a hit counter.