Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or the spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1%. The risk for men (about 1 in 143) is slightly higher than that of women (about 1 in 185), although certain types of tumors are more common in women.
Brain cancer can arise from many different types of brain cells (primary brain cancer) or when cancer calls from another part of the body spread (matastasize) to the brain. Cause of brain cancer are difficult to prove; avoiding compounds linked to cancer production is advised.
Early symptoms of brain cancer can vary according to the type but most commonly include headaches, which may severe and worsen with activity or in the early morning. Also seizures may occur. Motor seizures, also called convulsions, are sudden involuntary movements of a persons muscles. There may be personality or memory changes along with nausea and vomiting. The person might feel fatigued, drowsy and suffer with sleep problems or insomnia.
There are many kinds of brain cancers but this article will be focusing on the type most people suffer with, known as gliomas. Gliomas begin in the glial (supportive) tissue. There are several types of gliomas including the following:
1. Ependymomas: ependymal cells
2. Astrocytomas: astrocytes (glioblastoma multiforme is a malignant astrocytoma and the most common in adults)
3. Oligodendrogliomas: oligodendrocytes
4. Brain stem gliomas: occur in the brain stem
5. Optic nerve glioma: develop in and around the optic nerve
The exact causes of gliomas are not known. Heriditary genetic disorders are known to predispose to their development. Recently, researchers have found that adults with gliomas were most likely to consume diets high in cured foods and low in vitamin C. Gliomas have also been correlated to the electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and s link between the cancer and cell phone usage was considered possible. Though some studies have shown that farmers have higher rates of gliomas compared to the general population, exposure to farm animals or manure is not associated with glioma.
Treatment for brain gliomas depends on the location, the cell type, and the grade of malignancy. Often, treatment is a combined approach, using surgeries, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. The radiation therapy is in the form of external beam radiation or the stereotactic approach using radio surgery. Spinal cord tumors can be treated effectively by surgery and radiation. Temozolomide, a chemotherapeutic drug, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier effectively and is currently being used in therapy for high grade tumors.
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