Brain Cancer – Can I Catch it?

INTRODUCTION: Brain cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in patients under the age of 35. Primary brain cancer starts in the brain while Metastatic brain cancer starts elsewhere in the body and moves to the brain. Primary brain cancer rarely spreads past the central nervous system, and death results from uncontrolled tumor growth within the confined space of the skull. Metastatic (spreading) brain cancer indicates advanced disease and has an extremly poor prognosis.

In the United States, the annual incidence of this disease is around 15 tO 20 cases per 100,000 people. Primary brain tumors account for 50 percent of intracranial tumors and secondary brain cancer accounts for the remaining cases. The annual incidence of primary brain cancer in children is approximately 3 per 100,000. Secondary brain cancer occurs in 20% to 30% of persons with metastatic disease and incidences increases with age. In the US, about 100,000 cases of secondary brain cancer are diagnosed each year.

SYMPTOMS: The symptoms of a brain tumor can vary tremendously from patient to patient. Symptoms usually develop over time and their characteristics depend on the location and size of the tumor. Those caused by a tumor of the meninges (meningioma) depend on which part of the brain is being compressed. They include headaches, as well as problems with eyesight. Symptoms of increasing intracranial pressure plus Nausea,Vomiting, and Headaches are also common symptoms.

TYPES: As previously stated earlier there are two kinds of brain tumors: primary brain tumors that begin in the brain and metastatic (secondary) brain tumors that came from cancer cells that migrated from other parts of the body to the brain. Both tumors take up space in the brain and can cause serious problems.

RISKS: Those with a history of melanoma, lung, breast, colon, or kidney cancer are at great risk for secondary brain cancer. Exposure to vinyl chloride is an environmental risk factor for the disease. People who work in these plants or live nearby to them have an increased risk for brain cancer. Persons who have received radiation therapy to the head as part of a previous treatment for other malignancies are also at an increased risk for new tumors.

Life carries some risk, and no data can ever be perfect. It is simply not possible to rule out every potential risk. Also, small risks that require millions of people to be exposed or years of exposure cannot be studied until after a product is in the marketplace and is actually being used by millions of people.

TREATMENT: A histologic examination is essential for determining the appropriate treatment and the correct prognosis. Treatment depends on the age of the patient, the stage of the disease, the type and location of the tumor, and whether the cancer is a primary tumor or brain metastases.

Treatment involves any combination of surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. Surgery is the treatment of choice for accessible primary brain tumors, when the patient is in good health. The main treatment option for single metastatic tumors is surgical removal, followed by radiotherapy and/or chemotherapy. The treatment plan is developed by the oncology team and the patient. The more knowledge you have, the easier it is to make decisions about your cancer treatment.

CONCLUSION: Brain cancer has a wide variety of symptoms including seizures, sleepiness, confusion, and behavioral changes. There are two main types of brain cancer. Drastic and sometimes life-threatening complications can develop. Symptoms of brain and spinal cord tumors generally develop slowly and worsen over time unless they are treated.

Statistics indicate that brain cancer is not rare and is very likely to develop in about 20,000 persons OR more per year. People with risk factors such as having a job in an oil refinery, as a chemist, embalmer, or rubber-industry worker show greater rates of the disease. Some families have several members with brain cancer, but heredity as a cause has not been linked to brain tumors. Other risk factors including smoking, radiation exposure, and viral infection (HIV) have been suggested but not proven to cause cancer of the brain. There is no verifiable evidence that brain cancer is contagious, caused by trauma to the head, or by cell phone use (Yet).

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