Major Forms of Cancer - Cancer of the brain

Cancers in the brain tissue frequently are the result of metastasis from other body organs. They travel through the bloodstream, primarily from cancers of the lung, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and breast. They become implanted in both the cerebrum and cerebellum, and, although there is wide distribution of the cancer cells, they are clustered mainly near the surfaces of the brain tissues. Primary brain tumors are more common among children than among adults; in children, other cancer sites are not likely to have had time to develop to the stage of metastasis required for the transmission of malignant cells to the brain.

A cancer that seems to originate in the brain tissues is known as glioblastoma multiforme , a malignant growth that may strike at any age but is more likely to occur during middle age. The glioblastoma may develop in nearly any part of the brain structure, including the brain stem, and spread extensively into a large tumorous mass.


Symptoms of brain cancer may include headache, dizziness, nervousness, depression, mental confusion, vomiting, and paralysis. The symptoms sometimes are interpreted as those of a psychiatric disorder, and treatment of the organic disease may be postponed until too late.


Diagnosis may be difficult, and the physician must evaluate the symptoms in terms of other findings from laboratory tests, X rays, and other techniques. In some cases, cancer cells may be detected in samples of spinal fluid.


Treatment of brain cancers usually requires surgery or radiation or both, depending upon the type of tumor, its location, and other factors. Whether or not the brain tumor is a true cancer is not as important as early treatment; any abnormal tissue growth in the brain causes destructive pressure against vital tissues.

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