10 facts about brain tumors that you might not know
May 22, 2015
| by Sayeh Hirmand
May is Brain Cancer Awareness Month. Help spread awareness of this disease by sharing these facts with family and friends.
Doctors often recommend preventive screenings for several cancers, based on hereditary or genetic factors, but brain tumors aren't one of them.
Primary brain tumors, which originate in the brain rather than spreading from another location, seem to develop at random, and doctors have little insight into who might develop one. Further, such tumors don't even have obvious symptoms until the disease is already advanced.
In fact, most people know little about brain tumors. So here we shed some light on, and raise awareness of, a disease that is rarely discussed, but should be.
There are almost 700,000 people in the United States living with a primary brain tumor; almost 69,000 will be diagnosed this year.
Brain tumors are the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in people under the age of 20, and the leading cause of cancer-related death in people under the age of 14.
The most common brain tumors are known as secondary tumors, meaning they have metastasized, or spread, to the brain from other parts of the body such as the lungs, breasts, colon or prostate.
While the cause of primary brain tumors is unknown, some symptoms include recurrent headaches, seizures, personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, difficulty speaking or comprehending, and short-term memory loss.
Most primary brain tumors have no known cause and are linked to no known risk factors. They affect all races, ages, genders and ethnicities.
Of the 200,000 people in the United States diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor each year, approximately 40,000 of these diagnoses are primary brain tumors.
Over 120 different types of brain tumors have been identified, making universally effective treatments complicated. Both malignant and benign tumors can be life-threatening.
Brain tumors in children are different than those in adults and are therefore treated differently. Survival rates tend to be highest for younger patients, with a five-year survival rate of 66 percent for children ages 0 to 19 years.
Although the public remains unaware of the magnitude of this disease, the cure rate for most brain tumors remains significantly lower compared to many other types of cancer due to underfunded research.