Brain Tumors

May is National Brain Tumor Awareness Month.  According to the National Brain Tumor Society, who is committed to improving the lives of all those affected by brain tumors, more than 69,000 Americans will be diagnosed with a primary brain tumor this year. 

A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain or central spine that can disrupt proper brain function.  Doctors refer to a tumor based on where the tumor cells originated, and whether they are cancerous (malignant) or not (benign).  

The least aggressive type of brain tumor is often called a benign brain tumor.  Benign brain tumors originate from cells within or surrounding the brain, do not contain cancer cells, grow slowly, and typically have clear borders that do not spread into other tissue.  Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells and often do not have clear borders.  They are considered to be life threatening because they grow rapidly and invade surrounding brain tissue.  Tumors that start in cells of the brain are called primary brain tumors.  Primary brain tumors may spread to other parts of the brain or to the spine, but rarely to other organs.  Metastatic or secondary brain tumors begin in another part of the body and then spread to the brain.  Metastatic tumors are more common than primary brain tumors and are named by the location in which they begin. 

Brain tumor symptoms can vary according to tumor type and location.  Symptoms can include: 

– Recurrent headaches

– Issues with vision and/or hearing

– Seizures

– Changes in personality

– Short-term memory loss

– Poor coordination

– Facial paralysis

– Difficulty speaking or comprehending 

There are about 120 different types of brain tumors.  They are generally named after the type of cell they developed from.  Anaplastic astrocytoma and glioblastoma multiforme are the most common types of brain tumors in adults.  These tumors are malignant and can sometimes spread to other parts of the brain.  

At Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center, radiation therapy is used to treat brain tumors painlessly and noninvasively.  Radiation therapy serves as an effective treatment for primary brain tumors and metastatic brain tumors, working within and around cancer cells to limit their ability to multiply.  During treatment, high-energy X-rays are delivered to brain tumors safely and effectively.  Side effects are usually minimal, and most patients return to their normal activities immediately after each treatment.  Several factors determine candidacy for brain tumor radiation therapy treatment including your age, overall health, the type, location and size of the tumor, as well as how aggressive the tumor appears to be.

For more information about brain tumors, or any of the conditions we treat at Commonwealth Newburyport Cancer Center, please click here