Brain cancer is an abnormally growing tumor of cells inside the brain or skull, some are benign, some are malignant. Tumors can develop from brain tissue (primary) or cancer from other parts of the body that can spread to the brain (metastases).
What is brain cancer?
Brain cancer accounts for about 15% of childhood cancers and is the second most common cancer in children.
Depending on the location and type of cells, brain cancer can progress quickly or slowly over a period of years. However, brain cancer is quite rare. According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, people have less than 1% chance of developing malignant brain tumors in their lifetime.
There are more than 120 types of brain tumors, grouped into two main types:
- Benign: develops slowly and is unlikely to spread. Common types are meningiomas, neuromas, pituitary tumors and skull tumors.
- Malignant: cancerous and likely to spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord. Common types include astrocytoma, oligodendrogliomas, glioblastomas and mixed gliomas.
Five-year survival rate for brain cancer is 22%.
Types of brain cancer
Cancer is named based on where it started:
- Brain cancer begins in the brain: called primary brain cancer.
- Cancer has spread to the brain: cancer has begun elsewhere in the body.
Cancerous tumors in the brain often metastasize and are not due to primary brain cancer.
There are also different types of brain tumors, the type of tumor based on its position in your brain and the level of how fast the tumor grows. Grades 1 through 4, grade 4 have the fastest growth rate.
There are more than 120 different types of brain tumors. However, there are no standards for naming by type and there are many subtypes. Different doctors may use different names for the same tumor.
Causes of brain cancer
The exact cause of brain cancer is still unknown. However, factors that may increase the risk of brain cancer include high-dose ionizing radiation and a family history of brain cancer .
Cancer in another part of your body is also a risk factor. Types of cancer that often spread to the brain include:
- lung cancer
- breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- bladder cancer
- Malignant tumor: a type of skin cancer
Other factors that may be associated with developing brain cancer include:
- Age: The risk of developing brain tumors increases with age, although some types of brain tumors are more common in children
- History of cancer: Children with cancer are at higher risk of developing brain tumors later in life. Adults who have leukemia or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are also at an increased risk
- Radiation: exposure to radiation accounts for a very small number of brain tumors. Some types of brain tumors are more common in people who have had radiation, CT or head x-rays.
- Family and genetic history: certain genetic conditions are known to increase the risk of brain tumors, including tuberous sclerosis, type 1 neuroma, type 2 neuroma and Turner syndrome
- HIV or AIDS: compared to the general population, you are twice as likely to develop brain tumors if you have HIV or AIDS
Symptoms of brain cancer
The symptoms of brain cancer vary widely depending on the location of the tumor. The following symptoms and warning signs are the most common:
- Walking is difficult and dizzy
- Muscle weakness: weakness of arms and legs
- Headache: persistent and severe
Other common symptoms that may occur include
- blurry vision,
- a change in one’s vigilance,
- demoralization or confusion,
- memory issues,
- Changes in speech: such as difficulty speaking, speech impaired or unable to speak
- personality changes,
- weakness on one side of the body,
- coordination issues,
- reduced contact feeling.
Symptoms of brain cancer are affected by which parts of the brain are involved and the functional system it affects (for example, movement, sensation, language, etc.)
These symptoms may also occur in people who do not have brain cancer and none of these symptoms alone or in combination can predict that a person has brain cancer.
Diagnosis of brain cancer
A thorough and accurate diagnosis is the first step in developing a brain cancer treatment plan.
Common tools used to diagnose brain cancer include:
- Bone medicine nuclear scan
- Other imaging tests
Stages of brain cancer
The classification of brain cancer is much different from the classification of other cancers in the body. Cancer of the lung, colon and breast are organized based on their position in the body, size, lymph node involvement and spread. Tumors in the brain are classified based on the degree of activity of the tumor cells under a microscope.
- G I: The tumor grows slowly and rarely spreads to nearby tissues. The tumor can be completely removed with surgery.
- G A. II: The tumor grows slowly but can spread to nearby tissue or recurrence.
- G III: The tumor grows rapidly, able to spread to nearby tissues and tumor cells look very different from normal cells.
- G IV : The tumor grows and spreads very fast, and the tumor cells do not look like normal cells.
Treatment for brain tumors varies depending on a number of factors: age, health, size, location and type of tumor.
- Surgery is usually the first line of treatment for brain cancer. The procedure may include minimally invasive surgical techniques to remove tumors accurately and safely.
- This type of specialized surgery is done on the nervous system, especially the brain and spinal cord, often focusing on removing the entire brain tumor.
- This treatment is often used to treat advanced brain cancer, used alone or in combination with other brain cancer treatments, such as surgery or radiation.
- This treatment is used to destroy brain tumor cells and reduce tumor-induced symptoms.
- Targeting is a method of using targeted therapies that is designed to target specific or abnormal pathways in cells involved in brain tumor growth.
Methods of preventing brain cancer
There is no way to prevent brain cancer, but it can reduce the risk of brain cancer:
- Routine screening is essential for all patients who may allow early cancer detection.
- Avoid or reduce exposure to radiation and avoid toxic chemicals related to the oil and rubber industry, embalming chemicals and other environmental toxins that may help prevent brain cancer.
- Avoiding HIV infection is also suggested.
- Maintain an exercise routine and a balanced, healthy diet.
Prospects for brain cancer
If you have a brain tumor, your outlook will depend on a number of factors including:
- your age
- What kind of tumor do you have
- Where is it in your brain?
- how is the treatment effect
- Your general health level
Survival rates are difficult to predict because brain tumors are rare and there are many different types. Your doctor will be able to give you more information about your prospects.
Typically, about 15 out of every 100 people with a brain tumor will survive after 5 years or more after being diagnosed.
Source of Brain Cancer Reference:
- Source mayoclinic.org article Brain tumor : https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/brain-tumor/symptoms-causes/syc-20350084 , updated April 27, 2019.
- Source en.wikipedia.org article Brain tumor : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_tumor , updated 11/11/2019.
- Reputable sources index-china.com synthesis article What is Brain Cancer? : https://index-china.com/brain-cancer/, updated 14/3/2020.
Assoc.Prof.Dr. Tran Ngoc Anh is currently Hanoi Medical University Hospital, Associate Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology and Head of Department of General-Uematology of Hanoi Medical University. Consulting doctor at ThuocLP Pharmacy.
Professional qualifications, Academic degrees – Education:
Graduated from General Practitioner System, Hanoi Medical University
Graduated with a Master degree in Internal Medicine, Hanoi Medical University
Graduated from the training program specialized in Gastrointestinal, Henri Mondor Institute Center, University of Paris 6, French Republic 1996-1997; 1999
Graduated from the training program specialized in Gastrointestinal, North Royal Sydney Hospital, Australia; 2002
Graduated from a training program specialized in chronic liver diseases, Pizza, Italy 2009
Graduated with a PhD in Gastrointestinal, Hanoi Medical University
Associate Professor, Gastroenterology, Hanoi Medical University
Training and Scientific Research:
Published more than 200 articles in domestic and international specialized journals
Editor of many monographs and participates in compiling 2 textbooks.
Guide many students and graduate students of Hanoi Medical University
Manager of many grassroots research projects
Certificate of Good Clinical Practice (GCP: 2012, 2015), Ministry of Health
Specialized certificates: General gastrointestinal endoscopy, Interventional gastrointestinal endoscopy, General gastrointestinal ultrasound, Interventional gastrointestinal ultrasound (Bach Mai BV), Chronic liver disease.