understanding brain cancer

Cancer of the brain is usually referred to as a brain tumor. However brain tumors themselves can be benign, with no cancer cells, or malignant, with cancer cells that grow quickly.

There are two main categories of brain cancer: primary which starts in the brain itself and metastatic which starts somewhere else in the body and migrates to the brain.

There are over 120 different types of brain tumors which make effective treatment complicated. Tumors, whether malignant or non-malignant (benign) can be injurious or life threatening. For more in depth information about brain cancer, please visit the National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of brain cancer are often hard to distinguish from other less serious conditions. They can include headaches, usually worse in the morning; nausea or vomiting; changes in your ability to talk, hear or see; problems with balance or walking; problems with thinking or memory; muscle jerking or twitching; and numbness or tingling in arms or legs. While these are the most common symptoms of a brain tumor, they can also indicate other medical problems. If you are having any of these symptoms, it is important to see your doctor to get a diagnosis.

Doctors diagnose brain tumors by doing a neurological exam and tests including an MRI, CT scan and biopsy. People with brain tumors have several treatment options. At present, the standard treatments for brain tumors include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. These treatments may be used either individually or in combination. Steroids may be used to reduce inflammation and control brain swelling.

(source NIH: National Cancer Institute)