What is a Brain Tumor?
A brain tumor is an abnormal mass of tissue in the central nervous system (CNS). Brain tumors can start from brain cells, the membranes around the brain (meninges), nerves, or glands. Brain tumors can directly destroy brain cells. They can also damage cells by producing inflammation, placing pressure on other parts of the brain, and increasing pressure within the skull.
Brain Tumor Symptoms
Symptoms depend on the tumor’s size, location, how far it has spread, and whether there is swelling. The most common symptoms are:
- Changes in the person’s behavior or cognitive functions
- Seizures (especially new seizures in older adults)
- Weakness in one part of the body
Headaches caused by brain tumors may:
- Be worse when the person wakes up in the morning, and clear up in a few hours
- Occur during sleep
- Occur with vomiting, confusion, double vision, weakness, or numbness
- Get worse with coughing or exercise, or with a change in body position
Possible Causes of Brain Tumors
Studies suggest the following items can increase the risk of brain tumors:
- Genetic, inherited conditions can increase the risk of brain tumors, including neurofibromatosis, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Turcot syndrome.
- Having a compromised immune system (more so with CNS lymphomas and people infected with AIDS)
- Radiation therapy to the brain, used to treat brain cancers, increases the risk for brain tumors up to 20 or 30 years afterward
Brain Cancer – Glioblastoma
Glioblastoma is the one of the most common and most aggressive cancerous brain tumor in humans. The incidence rate is 2-3 cases per 100,000 people in Europe and North America. Risk factors for glioblastoma include:
- Being male (more common in men than women)
- Age: over 50 years old
- Ethnicity: Caucasians, Asians
Also, having one of the following genetic disorders is associated with an increased incidence of gliomas: Neurofibromatosis, Tuberous sclerosis, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Turcot syndrome.