As the control center for all of the other organs in our body, the brain is a complex and not fully understood part of the human body. Cancerous brain tumors are relatively rare. However, being diagnosed with a brain tumor can be a scary experience. Take some time this May, Brain Tumor Awareness Month, to educate yourself about brain cancer.
What is Brain Cancer?
When physicians refer to a brain tumor, they are referring to a tumor that begins or originates in the brain. This is different from tumors that begin elsewhere, like the breast or lung, and then spread or metastasize to the brain. Brain tumors often require treatment even if they are benign and not cancer since their growth can damage critical areas of the brain.
There are many types of brain tumors. These include:
More than 20,000 Americans will be diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015, according to American Cancer Society estimates. Many more will be diagnosed with a benign brain tumor. Survival rates vary and are based on patient age and type of tumor, among other factors.
Who is at risk for developing brain cancer?
Lifetime risk for developing a cancerous brain tumor is less than one percent. The average lifetime risk for developing a brain tumor is around 1 in 140 for men and 1 in 180 for women.
Brain cancer is most frequently diagnosed in patients with no risk factors. Radiation exposure is a major risk factor for developing brain cancer. Family history of certain health conditions can increase the risk for developing brain cancer. These include:
- Neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2).
- Tuberous sclerosis.
- Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
What are the symptoms of a brain tumor?
Brain tumors are most frequently diagnosed after a patient begins experiencing symptoms. Symptoms of a brain tumor can develop suddenly or develop gradually over time. They include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Difficulty with balance.
- Problems with vision.
- Changes in personality.
- Fatigue and drowsiness.
Experiencing one or more of these symptoms does not mean a patient definitely has a brain tumor. These can all be caused by other health conditions. However, individuals experiencing any of these symptoms should see their physician, especially if they are persistent or getting worse.
If you have been diagnosed with a brain tumor and you would like to meet with one of our doctors, please schedule an appointment or contact us with any questions.