Overview

Brain tumor occur when mass or abnormal cells develop in the brain.

Brain tumors are formed in several different types. Some are cancerous, known as malignant, while some are noncancerous or benign. Primary brain tumors are when tumors initially develop in the brain. When cancerous tumors appear in other areas of the body and spread to the brain, they are considered as secondary or metastatic brain tumors.

The growth rate of a brain tumor varies on different factors. How the brain function is affected depends on tumor’s growth rate and location. The type, the size and the location of the tumor are the factors that will determine the treatment options.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms vary depending on the type, size and location of the tumor:

  • Headaches that started suddenly or changes of its pattern
  • Progressive headache.More frequent or more severe headaches.
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Problem with visions, such as blurry vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision
  • Problems with hearing, speech or thinking
  • Weakness or numbness of an arm or a leg
  • Balance difficulties
  • Exhaustion
  • Confused with daily issues
  • Unable to follow easy commands
  • Changes in behaviors or personality

Consult a doctor if these signs and symptoms are persistent.

Causes

Primary brain tumors

When brain tumors develop initially within the brain itself or in the tissues surrounding it, it is known as primary brain tumors. For instance, tumor arising in the covering membranes, cranial nerves, pituitary gland or in pineal gland.

When regular cells go through changes or mutate in their DNA, primary brain tumors occur. DNA in the cells guide them with what they are supposed to do. When mutations occur, the cells are indicated to grow and quickly separate themselves and to live while healthy cells die. This results in a mass formed by abnormal cells, which becomes a tumor.

Primary brain tumors are not frequently found in adults when compared to secondary brain tumors, which are the tumors that arise from cancer developing somewhere in the body and spreads to the brain.

There are various kinds of primary brain tumors. Each of them obtains their names from the type of cells that are associated with it.

  • Gliomas are the kinds of brain tumors that originate in the brain or spinal cord and include astrocytomas, ependymomas, glioblastomas, oligoastrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas.
  • Meningiomas are the tumors that develop from the meninges. Meningiomas are mostly
  • Acoustic neuromas (schwannomas) are tumors that are noncancerous which occur on the nerves that manage balance and hearing abilities starting from the inner ear to the brain.
  • Pituitary adenomas are tumors that arise in the pituitary gland at the base section of the brain. Pituitary hormones may be affected by this type of tumor.
  • Medulloblastomas originate from the lower back part of the brain and has the tendency to spread through spinal fluid. They are the cancerous type of brain tumors, which are frequently found in children. However, it can develop at any age.
  • Germ cell tumors tend to arise in children where the testicles or ovaries are developed. However, germ cell tumors may have an impact on brain or other parts of the body as well.
  • Craniopharyngiomas are rarely found. They begin around the pituitary gland that release hormones to control various functions in the body. The gradual growth of craniopharyngioma may have an impact on the pituitary gland and other structures around the brain.
Secondary (metastatic) brain tumors

When cancerous tumors appear in other areas of the body, and spread to the brain, they are known as secondary or metastatic brain tumors. Patients who have a record of cancer in the past are commonly detected with secondary brain tumors. Adults are often found with secondary brain tumors than the primary brain tumors.

Although, there is a chance for any type of cancer to spread to the brain, the most common types are breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.

Risk factors 

The cause of primary brain tumors in majority of the people is unclear. However, the followings are identified as factors that may raise the risk of developing brain tumor.

  • Radiation exposure, specifically ionizing radiation, increases the risk of brain tumor. Radiation therapy for cancer treatments and exposure to radiation from atomic bombs are some of the examples of ionizing radiation.
  • Having family history of brain tumors can be a risk factor as a small amount of people with this record or having a history of genetic syndromes have been diagnosed brain tumors.