What are brain tumors?


A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm. It is caused by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division, usually in the brain itself. However, it can also be in blood vessels, cranial nerves, the brain envelopes (meninges), skull, pituitary gland, or pineal gland. Cancer originating from other organs can also spread to the brain and become metastatic tumors.

Brain tumors are often inherently serious and life-threatening because of their invasive and infiltrative character in the limited space of the intracranial cavity. The clinical significance of a malignant or benign neoplasm in the brain differs from those cancerous or non-cancerous neoplasms in other parts of the body. The seriousness of the situation depends on a combination of factors including the type of tumor, its location, its size, and how fast it grows.

Understanding Risk Factors for Brain Tumors

According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of developing primary brain cancer is less than one percent. Risk factors can’t be used to predict whether or not you will get a cancer; they only affect the chances of developing a cancer. The risk factors are as follows:

Chemicals:  certain industrial chemicals or solvents have been linked to an increased risk in developing brain cancer. Those who work in oil refining, rubber manufacturing, and drug manufacturing are at higher risk.

Gender: Certain cancers, like meningiomas, are twice as likely to develop in women.

Symptoms of Brain Tumors

Symptoms from a brain tumor may be similar to those caused by an injury or other unrelated diseases in the brain. Symptoms depend on the size and location of the tumor. Vision problems may result from a tumor near the optic tract. Headaches caused by a brain tumor differ from those caused by other diseases. The frequency and intensity of these headaches are different. A noticeable change in the pattern of headaches is more often a sign of a brain tumor.

  • Changes in Vision - Tumors, depending on the size and location may cause abnormal eye movements or changes in vision.
  • Loss of Motor Skill - Speech, hearing, balance, and movement may be affected if tumors grow in certain areas of the brain responsible for motor functions.
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting – This happens when the intracranial pressure increases.
  • Seizures - The onset of seizures can be the result of a tumor forming.
  • General Confusion and Personality Change- A tumor can sometimes impact overall mental condition and result in confusion. Sometimes a tumor on the front part of the brain can cause gradual changes in behavior, personality and thinking.
  • Hormonal Disorders - Tumors within the pituitary gland, which is vital to the production and regulation of hormones, may impact the production and regulation of hormones, resulting in symptoms similar to certain endocrine disorders.

Diagnosis of a Brain Tumor

The presence of a combination of symptoms and the lack of corresponding clinical indications of infections or other causes can be an indicator to redirect diagnostic investigation towards the possibility of an intracranial neoplasm.

Imaging plays a central role in the diagnosis of brain tumors: Computed tomography (CT)-scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The definitive diagnosis of brain tumor can only be confirmed by histological examination of tumor tissue samples obtained either by brain biopsy or open surgery.

Treatment Options for Brain tumors at Premier Cancer Center:


Most Common Side Effects of Radiation Therapy to the Brain

• Fatigue
• Headache