Brain Cancer and Brain Tumors

The chance of developing a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord is less than one percent. Unlike cancers that start in other parts of the body, tumors that start in the brain or spinal cord rarely spread to other organs.

Risk factors

  • Radiation exposure: Exposure to radiation, most often from some type of radiation therapy,
  • increases the risk
  • Family history: There is an increased risk when immediate family members have well-defined
  • disorders, such as Neurofibromatosis type 1, Neurofibromatosis type 2, tuberous sclerosis, Von
  • Hippel-Lindau disease or Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Immune system disorder: Patients with impaired immune systems have an increased risk

Signs and symptoms

Patients experiencing any of these symptoms should consult a physician.

  • Headaches, especially that get worse over time
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Balance problems
  • Personality or behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Drowsiness, or even coma

Screening

There are no recommended tests used to screen for brain cancer or spinal cord tumors. Most brain tumors are found once a person starts having symptoms. People that are suspected of having brain cancer or have a higher risk for brain tumors should obtain frequent physical exams and other tests beginning at a young age.

Treatment

Common treatments for brain cancer and spinal cord tumors include:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible is often the first step in brain cancer treatment
  • Chemotherapy or targeted therapies are often used for faster-growing tumors, and can be administered by mouth, injected into the bloodstream through IV, or put directly into the cerebrospinal fluid to better reach the brain and tumor cells
  • Radiation therapy can be used to destroy remaining cancer cells after surgery, or as the main treatment if surgery and medicines are not effective options
  • Alternating electric field therapy is a newer treatment option for certain tumor types that emits mild electric currents against the skull to interfere with the cells’ ability to grow
  • Clinical research can provide patients with access to new treatment options

Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide customized treatment plans for patients diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with brain cancer, contact Comprehensive at 702-952-3350.