Understanding Brain Tumors

Each year over 180,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a brain tumor (malignant and benign), according to the American Brain Tumor Association. Although brain tumors can occur at any age, they are common in children ages 3 to 12, and adults ages 40 and 70. Of those diagnosed, an estimated 35,000 are diagnosed with primary brain tumors, which are tumors that start at the brain.  And, unfortunately, brain tumors take the lives of an estimated 13,000 people each year. It’s important to understand what brain tumors are in order to identify them and to seek proper treatment.

What is a brain tumor?
A tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue and occurs in various parts of the body. Benign brain tumors contain noncancerous cells and can usually be removed and usually don’t reoccur after surgery. Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells, which quickly grow to other parts of the body. Although a brain tumor may form in the brain, a secondary tumor may spread to the brain from other parts of the body such as the lung. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified brain tumors into over 120 types and determined their classification according to where the cells originated from, their behavior, and rate of aggression.

What causes brain tumors?
Research has not provided solid reasons as to the causes of brain tumors; however, research has assessed certain risk factors for developing brain cancer. These include heredity, chemical toxins, cigarette smoking and those born with partial defects.

What are the effects of brain tumors?
Those suffering brain tumors commonly experience pain, illness and seizures. The seriousness of these effects usually depend upon the grade of the brain tumor. Individuals may experience mild to severe headaches, nausea and vomiting, and partial to full-blown out seizures. Since the tumor is located in the brain, individuals experience neurological effects such as a loss in memory, decrease in coordination, and loss of muscle control, among many others.

What are the stages of brain cancer?
Tumors vary according to grade, in which grades are based upon how abnormal the cells in the tumor appear and the growth rate of the cells. Grades are based on a one to four scale with four being the most life threatening.

Grade I: Benign brain tissue and cells appear normal and grow slowly
Grade II: Malignant brain tissue and cells appear less than normal
Grade III: Malignant brain tissue with cells that are abnormal and are growing at a steady rate
Grade IV:  Malignant brain tissue with highly abnormal cells that are growing rapidly

What is neurosurgery?
Neurosurgery is the surgical treatment of problems affecting the nervous system, including the brain, spine, and peripheral nerves. Many individuals who suffered brain tumors underwent neurosurgery to remove the tumor and have successfully recovered.  An Oklahoma neurosurgery doctor will diagnose and treat brain tumors. Also, patients may receive other types of treatments in addition to surgery.

Jillian Johnson is a professional content writer with an interest in writing about health and wellness. Follow her @JillianLJ87.

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