Brain cancer is an abnormal growth or mass of cells in or around your brain. Brain tumors can be benign (non-cancerous), or malignant (cancerous). It is the second leading cause of cancer death in children ages 5-14. Brain cancer is also the third leading cause of cancer death in adults ages 20-39.
Brain Cancer Treatment in Tucson, AZ
What is Brain Cancer?
Brain cancer is a tumor that arises from brain tissue. It can occur in any part of the brain, but most commonly starts in the cerebrum, which is the largest part of the brain. Brain cancer can cause a variety of symptoms, including headaches, seizures, and changes in mood or behavior. It can also affect the nervous system, causing problems with movement or sensation.
Brain cancer is generally treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. However, the prognosis for brain cancer is often poor, as it is often difficult to completely remove the tumor without damaging surrounding brain tissue.
Types of Brain Cancer
There are several types of brain cancer, each with its own unique set of symptoms and treatment options. The most common type of brain cancer is a tumor, which can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous).
Malignant brain cancers are the more serious type, as they are aggressive and can quickly spread to other parts of the brain or spine. There are a number of different types of malignant brain cancer. The most common type of brain tumor is an astrocytoma. Astrocytomas are usually slow-growing tumors. Other types of brain tumors include oligodendrogliomas, medulloblastomas, and ependymomas.
Benign brain tumors, while still requiring treatment, are not as aggressive and tend to grow more slowly. Most benign tumors occur in the brain or spine, and the most common type is pituitary gland cancer. While benign brain tumors are not usually life-threatening, they can cause serious symptoms and may need to be removed surgically.
What are the symptoms of Brain Cancer?
Symptoms of brain cancer can vary depending on the size, location and type of tumor. However, common symptoms include headaches, seizures, nausea, vomiting and changes in mood or personality. Symptoms may also include vision or hearing problems, memory loss, and difficulty speaking or understanding language. Symptoms typically develop gradually and worsen over time. However, in some cases, symptoms can appear suddenly and without warning.
How is Brain cancer diagnosed?
Brain cancer can be difficult to diagnose because it can manifest in a variety of ways and often does not produce symptoms in the early stages. Imaging tests such as brain scans (CT or MRI) are often used to look for abnormalities that may suggest the presence of cancer. In some cases, a biopsy (surgical removal of tissue to be examined under a microscope) may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis.
- CT Scanning: This is a painless test that uses special x-ray equipment to take clear, detailed pictures of any abnormalities in the brain. A CT scan can be used to detect a variety of brain conditions, including tumors, bleeding, and swelling. This type of imaging is also often used to guide doctors during brain surgery.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): This is an imaging procedure that uses magnetism instead of x-rays. It uses strong magnetic fields and radio waves to create detailed images of organs and structures within the body.
- Biopsy: This is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a small sample of brain tissue is removed for diagnostic purposes. It is typically performed when other tests, such as MRI or CT scans, have not been able to definitively diagnose a brain tumor.
Once brain cancer is diagnosed, further testing is often done to determine the type and stage of cancer, which helps to guide treatment decisions.
There are four stages of Brain cancer:
Stage I: The cancer is typically slow-growing and can often be treated with surgery alone.
Stage II: The cancer is also slow-growing, but may require radiation therapy in addition to surgery.
Stage III: The cancer is more aggressive and may require both radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Stage IV: The cancer is the most aggressive form of the disease and often spreads rapidly throughout the brain, and to other parts of the body such as the liver or lungs.
What are the treatments for Brain cancer?
There are many treatments available for brain cancer, and the most appropriate treatment will be determined by the type and stage of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and overall health.
- Surgery : You may need to have part of your tumor and surrounding brain tissue surgically removed. This is the most common type of treatment for malignant glioma, but it can be both invasive (open) and non-invasive (closed). In some cases, radiation therapy or chemotherapy may also be used by a neurosurgeon to kill any remaining cancer cells in the brain after this first surgery has been performed.
- Radiation therapy: This treatment uses high-energy beams, such as x-rays or particles from radioactive elements called radioisotopes, to destroy cancer cells. Radiation therapy can be used alone or in combination with surgery and/or chemotherapy.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It can be taken orally in pill form or, more commonly, intravenously (through a vein). The goal of chemotherapy is to stop the growth of cancer cells, but it may take several treatment cycles before you can tell if this is working
- Targeted therapy : This is the use of medications that target specific abnormalities in brain cancer cells. These treatments are often used alongside other forms of treatment, such as surgery and radiation therapy. Targeted drugs are often more effective than other forms of treatment at stopping the growth of brain cancer cells, but they can also have more side effects.
Doctors and patients may have to customize a treatment plan for brain cancer based on the type of tumor, location in the brain, grade of malignancy (how fast it is likely to grow), as well as other factors.
What are the side effects of Brain cancer treatment?
The side effects of brain cancer treatment will depend on the type and stage of the tumor, as well as the patient’s age and overall health.
- Surgery: The most common side effect of brain surgery is swelling in the brain (cerebral edema). This can lead to a build-up of fluid in the brain, which can cause increased pressure and headaches. Other potential side effects of brain surgery include bleeding, infection, and stroke.
- Radiation therapy: Side effects of radiation therapy can include fatigue, hair loss, headache, nausea and vomiting, skin changes, and brain damage. These side effects are usually temporary and will go away after treatment is completed.
- Chemotherapy: Side effects of chemotherapy can include hair loss, nausea and vomiting, brain damage, and an increased risk of infection. These side effects are usually temporary and will go away after treatment is completed.
- Targeted drug therapy: Side effects of targeted drug therapy can include fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting, skin changes, and brain damage. These side effects are usually temporary and will go away after treatment is completed.
What is the Outlook for Patients with Brain Cancer?
The outlook for patients with brain cancer depends on the type of tumor, location in the brain, grade of malignancy (how fast it is likely to grow), as well as other factors. In general, brain tumors are small and located in areas of the brain that can be easily accessed.
What is the role of radiation therapy in Brain Cancer?
Radiation therapy is a common treatment for brain cancer. It can be used alone or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy, and/or targeted drug therapy. The goal of radiation therapy is to destroy brain cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy brain tissue.
In the early stages, radiation therapy can be used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It can also be used to relieve symptoms such as pain and pressure. In the later stages, radiation therapy can be used to keep tumors from growing and spreading.
In general, brain tumors that are small and located in areas of the brain that can be easily accessed have a better outlook than brain tumors that are large and located in difficult-to-reach areas. However, even small brain tumors can be aggressive and difficult to treat. The best way to determine a patient’s prognosis is to consult with a doctor who specializes in brain cancer.
What is the prognosis for someone with Brain cancer?
The prognosis for brain cancer depends on a number of factors, including the type and stage of the tumor, the age and health of the patient, and how well the tumor responds to treatment. In general, brain tumors that are small and have not spread outside of the brain tend to have a better prognosis than those that are large or have spread to other parts of the body.
Brain tumors that are caught early also tend to have a better prognosis than those that are not. However, it is important to remember that each case is unique and that no two patients will respond to treatment in exactly the same way.
Brain cancer is often difficult to diagnose at an early stage, as many of the symptoms can be caused by other conditions. If brain cancer is diagnosed early, treatment is typically more successful.
There are many different types of brain tumors, and each type can have a different prognosis. In general, brain tumors that are slow-growing and do not spread outside of the brain tend to have a better prognosis than those that are aggressive and/or have spread to other parts of the body.
However, each case is unique and some brain tumors can be very difficult to treat even when they are caught early. The best way to determine a patient’s prognosis is to consult with a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating brain tumors.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with brain cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor about your specific case and what you can expect.
Risk Factors for Brain Cancer
There are a number of risk factors for brain cancer, including age, exposure to ionizing radiation, and certain genetic conditions. However, the most important risk factor for brain cancer is having a family history of the disease.
- Age: The risk of brain cancer increases with age. Most brain tumors are diagnosed in people over the age of 55.
- Gender: Brain cancer is more common in men than women. This may be due to the fact that men are more likely than women to work around certain chemicals known to cause brain cancer.
- Exposure to ionizing radiation: People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation, such as X-rays or gamma rays, have an increased risk of brain cancer.
- Genetic conditions: A number of genetic conditions are associated with an increased risk of developing brain cancer. These include neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL), and Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
- Tumor syndrome: People who have tumor syndrome, such as neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2), have an increased risk of developing brain cancer.
- Family history of brain cancer: People with a family history of brain cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease themselves.
How can you reduce your risk of getting Brain cancer?
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of brain cancer, including:
- Avoiding exposure to ionizing radiation: You can lower your risk of brain cancer by avoiding unnecessary exposure to X-rays and other sources of ionizing radiation.
- Wearing protective gear: If you work around chemicals that are known to cause brain cancer, it is important to wear the proper protective gear, such as a mask or respirator.
- Eating a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables may help to reduce your risk of brain cancer.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including reducing the risk of brain cancer.
- Quitting smoking: Smoking is a known risk factor for brain cancer, so quitting can help to reduce your risk.
The best way to reduce your risk of brain cancer is to consult with a doctor who specializes in the disease. They will be able to advise you on the best ways to lower your risk based on your individual circumstances.
We are here to help
It is important to note that the causes of most brain cancers are unknown. However, knowing your risk factors can help you take action against developing the disease and reduce your chances of getting it in the first place.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with brain cancer, it is important to get the best possible treatment. We offer a wide range of brain cancer treatments, including surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Our brain cancer team is here to help you every step of the way.
We are here to assist you as you deal with this challenging situation.