Brain cancer is the result of an atypical growth of cells in the brain, and can arise from primary brain cells — the cells that form other brain components like membranes and blood vessels — but can also arise from the growing of cancer cells that develop in other organs and that have spread to the brain through the bloodstream. In this case, a brain cancer patient would be facing metastatic brain cancer.
Brain aneurysms are sometimes confused with brain tumors, when in fact they represent different conditions. Brain aneurysms are areas in the brain arteries or veins that are abnormally weak and expand to form a ballooning or expansion of the vessel wall – they are not tumors, nor are they formed from cancer cells and rarely cause symptoms. The origin of the confusion lies in the fact that when aneurysms do produce symptoms, they can be similar to those produced by brain tumors.
Brain cancer symptoms
During early stages of brain cancer, there are few symptoms. The most common early symptoms are weakness, difficulty walking, seizures, and headaches. Other standard symptoms include nausea, vomiting, blurry vision, or a change in a person’s alertness, mental capacity, memory, speech, or personality. Keep in mind that these symptoms can also occur in people who do not have brain cancer, and they are not enough (alone or combined) to forecast if a person has brain cancer.
Cancer can appear in any part of the brain, such as occipital, frontal, parietal, or temporal lobes, brainstem, or meningeal membranes. There are some few cancers, like meningeal and pituitary gland tumors, that might cause few or even no symptoms.
Generally, the onset of such symptoms is gradual and may be overlooked both by the patient and his family members, even for long periods of time. However, it’s possible that the symptoms appear without previous sights, for example when the person acts as if he or she is having a stroke. Only further diagnoses will determinate if it was a seizure related to brain cancer.
Brain cancer causes
Like tumors in other parts of the body, the exact cause of what leads to brain cancer is unknown. Some factors have been posited as possible risk factors for tumors in the brain, although is not certain that such factors will actually increase one’s risk of getting brain cancer. Risk factors include: radiation to the head, genetic predisposition, HIV infection, cigarette smoking or environmental toxins (chemicals used in oil refineries, embalming chemicals, and others).
Brain cancer treatment
Each patient is treated differently for brain cancer, as treatments routines are based on individual profiles, including age, general health, and also details about the tumor, such as its location, size, type and stage. Even so, procedures such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy are used in most cases of brain cancer and represent the primary sorts of treatment available. Generally, patients undergo more than on type of treatment.
Side effects exists and should be discussed carefully with the medical team in charge of the treatment, as it is crucial both for patients and families to understand the possible effects of certain treatments.
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