Brain Cancer

Abnormal growth of the cells in the brain

By Vishal Ingole, Medical Research EditorLast modified: October 12, 2011

Brain Cancer

Abnormal growth of the cells in the brain causes brain tumors or brain cancer. This condition can develop either in the primary brain cells and the cells that constitute other brain components such as membranes or in other tissues and reach the brain by bloodstream. The type of treatment imparted to a brain cancer patient is individualized as per the severity of the condition.

Brain Cancer Defined

The cells which show an abnormal growth and become malignant are the ones which cause brain cancer. However, not all brain tumors are cancerous – some are benign; meaning they do not grow or spread aggressively. Malignant tumors proliferate rapidly and overpower the healthy cells, depriving them of space, blood and nutrition. This leads to an increased amount of pressure on the cranium and distortion of the vital structures surrounding the brain.

Symptoms Of Brain Cancer

Headaches and seizures
Nausea and vomiting
Blurred vision
Change in your ability to hear, see, walk or talk
Change in your mental alertness, memory, personality or speech
Twitching or jerking of muscles
Numbness in legs or arms

The above mentioned symptoms are by no means conclusive and can show up in a normal person as well. However, certain brain cancers may induce no symptoms at all.

Diagnosing Brain Cancer

CT scan (computerized tomography) is the most common test used to detect brain cancer.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) can also be used. Sometimes, biopsy (tissue is taken by surgery) is also conducted for examination.

Cerebrospinal fluid may also be examined to detect any abnormal cells.

Causes Of Brain Cancer

Primary tumors of the brain originate from various brain tissues such as astrocytes, glial cells, etc. Metastatic cancer of the brain occurs due to the spread of cancerous cells from other body parts to the brain. However, it is not fully understood why the cells change and become malignant. Research indicates that people with certain risk factors are more susceptible to brain cancer than others.

Risk Factors Of Brain Cancer

People who work in an oil refinery or handle jet fuel or chemicals such as benzene are more prone to brain cancer. Rubber industry workers, chemists or embalmers also fall in the high risk group category. A bevy of other factors such as viral infection (HIV), smoking and radiation exposure have also been suggested, though not proven.

Treatment For Brain Cancer

Different individuals require different treatment plans according to the location and size of the tumor, stage of the cancer, patient’s age etc.

Surgery, Chemotherapy and Radiation therapy are the most common treatments available to treat brain cancer. They may be used individually or in combination. Surgery is termed ‘invasive’ as it attempts to cut away the tumor from the brain cells.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are non-invasive procedures. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiations to obliterate the tumor whereas chemicals are employed in chemotherapy.

Sometimes, Hyperthermia (heat treatment) and immunotherapy (use of immune cells to kill cancer cells) are also used. Steroids also may be used to reduce inflammation and swelling in the brain.

Prevention Of Brain Cancer

Early detection and treatment of tumors may lessen the risk of metastatic brain tumors. However, there are no specific preventive measures that can be taken. Good nutrition through a diet rich in whole grains, fibers and regular exercise can overall ward off the potential risk of cancer development in the body.

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This article was written by the medical research team at does not intend for any of the information on this site to be regarded as medical advice - it is meant as a starting point for understanding treatment details and options before contacting a registered, licensed doctor. We advise all patients to seek medical advice from a doctor.
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