A brain cancer is an abnormal growth of the cells within the brain or the central spinal canal. These cancers are created by abnormal and uncontrolled cell division in the brain, the cranial nerves, brain envelopes or by spreading from the other organs. The former are known as metastatic cancers, and characterized by the spread of a disease from one organ or part to another non-adjacent organ or part. Brain cancer is a very serious and life-threatening disease, because it has very invasive character and spreads within the limited space of the intracranial cavity. The incidence of brain cancers in the United States is relatively high. It is estimated there are 13,000 deaths per year in the United States alone as a result of brain cancers.
Causes of brain cancers
Cancers are classified in two categories, as primary and metastatic cancers. Primary brain cancers are much less common, and they usually begin when normal cells acquire mutations in their DNA. Due to these mutations, the cells grow and divide at an increased speed and continue living when healthy cells would die. Secondary or metastatic brain cancers are resulting from cancer that starts elsewhere in the body and then spreads to the brain. The most common types of cancer that spread to the brain are breast cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, lung cancer and melanoma.
Symptoms of brain cancers
In many cases, a patient with brain cancer won’t feel any kind of symptoms. Unfortunately, in these cases, cancers are located and diagnosed only after death. Other patients may feel many different symptoms, which are usually non specific to brain cancers. These symptoms may indicate the presence of many other diseases as well. The symptoms of brain cancers are caused by the tumor pressing on or encroaching on other parts of the brain. This disrupts the brain’s normal function and results in numerous disturbances. The symptoms vary depending on the location and size of the tumor, and in some cases they are caused by swelling in the brain that occurs because of the inflammation around the cancerous tissue.
The most common symptoms of brain cancers are headaches that usually become more frequent. Patients often notice the new onset or change in the pattern of headaches. Unexplained nausea and vomiting are also common. Some patients may have vision problems, such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision. They could experience the loss of sensation in one limb or a part of the body, difficulty with balance and frequent seizures. Mental distortion is also possible, and usually manifests as confusion, difficulties speaking, frequent mood swings or personality changes.