Types, symptoms, treatments, and more

There are several types of brain cancer. Some examples are astrocytomas, ependymomas, and oligodendrogliomas.

Headaches, weakness, and vision problems are common symptoms of brain cancer. However, it is important to note that symptoms such as a headache can be caused by many things. They don’t always indicate brain cancer.

If a person is diagnosed with brain cancer, a doctor will help them start an appropriate course of treatment.

When a brain tumor is cancer, a doctor will likely recommend radiation therapy. A doctor will select a treatment plan depending on several factors, including a person’s age, type of cancer, and how fast the cancer is growing.

Read on to learn more about different types of brain cancer, common symptoms of each, and treatment options.

A brain tumor occurs when brain cells divide uncontrollably. This overgrowth creates masses or lumps in the brain. These are known as tumors.

Tumors damage the body by pressing on parts of the brain and restricting blood flow. In addition, tumors interfere with how neurons, the cells responsible for transmitting information, communicate with other parts of the brain and body.

Brain tumors are either primary or secondary.

Primary brain tumors arise in the brain. Secondary brain tumors form when cancer has spread to the brain from another part of the body.

There are several types of cancerous brain tumors. According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, gliomas are the most common type of brain cancer in adults. They make up 78% of cancerous tumors.

Gliomas originate from glial cells, which are cells that support neurons. There are three types of glial cells: astrocytes, ependymal cells, and oligodendrocytes.

Examples of gliomas are:

astrocytomas

These brain tumors arise as astrocytes. They usually occur in the cerebrum, the large upper part of the brain.

Astrocytomas are graded from 1 to 4, with the different levels indicating severity. Groups 1 and 2 grow relatively slowly. Grade 3 grows faster and is common in middle-aged men and women, although more common in men. When an astrocytoma progresses to grade 4, it is called a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common type of malignant brain tumor.

Symptoms

Symptoms of astrocytomas may include:

headache attacks weakness of the limbs problems with vision (double or blurred) problems with speech

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM)

Glioblastoma multiforme, grade 4 astrocytoma, is an aggressive, fast-growing cancer. They are most common in men between the ages of 50 and 70.

Symptoms

A person may experience:

headache blurred vision loss of appetite personality changes seizures

Ependymomen

These tumors originate from ependymal cells, which are cells that line the cavities in the brain. Ependymomas are most common in white and non-Hispanic people, and they are more common in men than women.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

headache nausea back pain weakness in the arms and legs.

Oligodendrogliomas

Oligodendrogliomas develop in the white matter of the brain, which plays an important role in communication between the brain and spinal cord, and in the brain itself. These tumors tend to grow on the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain. However, they can develop anywhere in the central nervous system (CNS).

They are most common in middle-aged men and are rare in children.

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

headache numbness problems with movement and balance problems with thinking problems remembering things fits

Some brain cancers are more common in children than adults. Some examples are:

medulloblastomas

Medulloblastomas usually form in the cerebellum, the lower part of the brain at the back of the skull.

They grow very quickly and spread through the CNS via the cerebrospinal fluid, a clear fluid in the brain and spinal cord.

With this tumor, a parent may notice that their child has problems walking and fine motor skills, such as holding a pen.

brain stem gliomas

There are two types of brainstem gliomas that occur in children.

Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are a rapidly growing form of brainstem tumor. Because they spread easily to nearby cells, they are difficult to treat.

Focal gliomas grow slowly and are benign or noncancerous in most cases. They are usually relatively easy to treat.

Symptoms of brainstem gliomas include a headache after lying down or upon waking. Parents may notice that their child loses balance easily, or drops things more than usual. The child may also have facial weakness or double vision.

Cancerous brain tumors usually require more treatment than noncancerous tumors.

Factors that affect how a person responds to treatment include:

tumor locationhow fast the tumor growsthe age of a personunderlying health condition

Doctors use different methods to treat brain cancer. Among which:

Surgery: If a tumor is easily accessible, this is the first approach a doctor would suggest.Radiation Therapy: This includes X-rays and proton therapy. High-energy rays destroy cancer cells and shrink tumors.Radiosurgery: This type of therapy uses high-energy radar beams. It is intended to prevent the tumor from growing and dividing.Chemotherapy: This type of therapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. It can also prevent them from growing and dividing.Targeted Therapy: This type of treatment uses drugs that target specific genes associated with tumor growth.

Because the types of brain cancer are so varied, the outlook for each individual case will be very different. However, early detection improves the prognosis for all cancers. If a person experiences possible symptoms of any of the cancers discussed in this article, they should contact a doctor.

Talking about brain cancer can be scary, but it’s important to remember that gliomas are common brain tumors in adults. A retrospective 2019 study suggested that several factors may improve prognosis.

Among which:

how well a person responds to chemotherapy the amount of tumor a surgeon can safely remove if a person receives chemotherapy or radiotherapy after surgery the grade of tumor

This study included a moderate sample size of individuals diagnosed with gliomas. It is unclear whether the study was representative of multiple demographic factors, so more research is needed in this area.

Getting a brain cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming and scary. Individuals who have received a diagnosis, as well as their loved ones and support network, should feel empowered to find support during this challenging time.

If they need help, there are plenty of resources they can turn to.

Among which:

Cancer Horizons: A financial support charity that helps people with cancer pay rent, pay medical bills, and also provide financial assistance to health care providers.American Brain Tumor Association: They provide social and emotional support to people who have received a brain tumor diagnosis.Needed Meds: This organization educates about programs that help people access medicines if they cannot afford them.Love, Team Tessa: This charity can help people with bills, fuel and transportation costs.

Read more about cancer sources here.

There are many types of brain cancer. The most common type of glioma is an astrocytoma, which can become glioblastoma multiforme in severe cases. GBM is particularly aggressive and fast growing.

Some types of brain cancer, such as medulloblastomas, are more common in children than adults.

There are several treatments available for brain cancer. A doctor will help a person determine the appropriate course of treatment.

Getting a brain cancer diagnosis is incredibly difficult. However, there are many organizations that provide support to people with cancer, including help with bills.

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