Brain cancer occurs when a mass of cancer tissue, also known as brain tumor, interferes with the functioning of the brain. According to a recent estimate by WHO even though brain cancer occurs quite infrequently, it develops in about 22,000 new people every year along with 13,000 estimated deaths. Thus, understanding the facts about this disease becomes crucial. Today, we have with us Dr. Rakesh K Dua, Ms. Mch. Neurosurgery, Associate consultant at Neurosurgery Department of Rockland hospital, New Delhi who will tell us the top 10 facts about brain cancer.
- The most common type of brain cancer is Secondary brain cancer (i.e. cancer from other part of body has reached the brain). The second most common brain cancer is Gliobalastoma, which is the most common primary brain cancer.
- The survival rate for primary brain cancer (Gliobalastoma) is usually 10 – 12 months with all treatment including surgery + chemotherapy + radiotherapy. The survival rate for secondary brain cancer varies depending upon the status and type of primary (usually 6 – 12 months) cancer.
- Common symptoms of brain cancer are a progressively increasing headache, seizure, focal neurological deficits like weakness of hands/legs, speech problems, walking difficulty, visual disturbances, behavior changes etc.
- Treatment options depend upon the type of cancer. For primary brain cancer, surgery is the first treatment option followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. For secondary brain cancer, surgery+/- radiotherapy-chemotherapy and Gamma knife surgery are the options depending upon the size and number of the tumors.
- The brain tumors can also occur in children under 20 years. The tumors common in 5 – 10 yrs of age are usually cancerous.
- Exposure to radiation is supposed to be one of the lead causes of brain cancer.
- There are varieties of brain tumors. No two tumors are alike. Not all brain tumors are cancerous also.
- Family history also plays a dominant role in brain cancer.
- Headache is one of the commonest symptoms, but the most important is the progressive increase in intensity and frequency of headache. Early morning headache is one of the characteristic symptoms.
- If it is primary brain cancer, then organ donation is not an issue, but in secondary brain cancer the patient may not be a candidate for donation.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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