An in-depth report on the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of brain tumors.
Primary Brain Tumors
Primary brain tumors are tumors that start in the brain. There are many types and subtypes of primary brain tumors; some are benign, others malignant. Examples include:
- Pituitary adenomas
- Central nervous system lymphomas
The exact causes of primary brain tumors are unknown. Genetic factors and inherited disorders play a role in some types of brain tumors.
Risk factors for brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor. Some types of tumors are more prevalent in men than in women. Some types of brain tumors usually occur in children, while others are more common in older people.
Survival rates in people with brain tumors depend on many different variables:
- Type of tumor
- Location and size of tumor (these factors affect whether or not the tumor can be removed surgically)
- Tumor grade
- Person's age
- Person's ability to function
- How far the tumor has spread
Brain tumors produce a variety of symptoms including headache, seizure, and neurological changes. Symptoms may be subtle and gradually become worse or they may occur very rapidly.
Diagnosis of a brain tumor involves a neurological exam and various types of imaging tests. Imaging techniques include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Biopsies may be performed as part of surgery to remove a tumor, or as a separate diagnostic procedure.
The standard approach for treating brain tumors is to reduce the tumor as much as possible using surgery, radiation treatment, or chemotherapy. Such treatments are typically used in combination with each other.