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Brain tumor

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From MayoClinic.com

Most malignant brain tumors and brain cancers have spread from other tumors in the body to the skull, including cancers of the breast and lung, malignant melanoma and blood cell cancers. Some brain tumors start in the cells that support the nerve cells of the brain, where they can crowd out normal cells and spread to other locations in the body. Tumors can either destroy tissue or cause problems in other parts of the body because of the pressure the tumor puts on the brain. A tumor is a mass or growth of abnormal cells. Tumors found in the brain typically are categorized as primary or secondary. Primary brain tumors originate in the brain and can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). But they're relatively rare. These tumors result from cancer that has started elsewhere in the body and spread (metastasized) to the brain.

Benign brain tumors are usually slower growing, easier to remove and less likely to recur than are malignant brain tumors. Malignant brain tumors can grow rapidly, crowding or destroying nearby brain tissue. However, in a small number of cases even benign brain tumors can cause serious problems or be life-threatening.

Brain tumors can be challenging to treat. In fact, brain tumors are the second leading cause of cancer death in children under age 15. But the outlook isn't necessarily bleak. Many types of brain tumors can be successfully treated with one or more treatment methods. In addition, new technology is enabling physicians to target tumors more precisely. And innovative treatments under investigation mean more hope for the future.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a brain tumor depend on its size, location and rate of growth. A brain tumor — primary or secondary — can cause a variety of symptoms because it can directly press on or invade brain tissue, damaging or destroying areas responsible for sight, movement, balance, speech, hearing, memory or behavior. Pressure from a brain tumor can also cause surrounding brain tissue to swell (edema), further increasing pressure and symptoms.

Signs and symptoms can include the following:

  • New and aggressive headache — especially upon awakening

  • Unexplained nausea or vomiting

  • Vision problems such as blurred vision, double vision or loss of peripheral vision

  • Gradual loss of sensation or movement in an arm or a leg

  • Difficulty with balance

  • Speech difficulties

  • Confusion in everyday matters

  • Personality or behavior changes

  • Seizures, especially in someone who doesn't have a history of seizures (as with epilepsy, for example)

  • Hearing problems

  • Hormonal (endocrine) disorders



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