A closer look at brain tumor and brain cancer: types, causes and symptoms

A closer look at brain tumor and brain cancer: types, causes and symptoms

Brain cancer is a condition that arises from a group of normal or abnormal cells that reproduce and grow out of control, resulting into a tumour. A brain tumour is a condition that arises due to abnormal cell growth that is increased in an unrestrained manner. A tumour is composed of unnecessary cells that grow in the brain and affect its functioning capacity. A brain tumour can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

Specific types of brain tumours are common in Australian adults, while others are common in Australian children. Each tumour may have a different appearance, depending on the type of tumour and location. A brain tumour has the ability of squashing normal brain tissue within the confirmed area of the skull, leading to the destruction of brain tissue.

Types of Brain Tumours / Brain Cancer

There are two categories of brain tumours Australia: metastatic brain tumours and primary brain tumours. Primary brain tumours are known to originate in the brain. Metastatic brain tumours are known to spring up from cancer cells that have moved from other parts of the human body. Primary brain cancer infrequently spreads beyond the central nervous system. Death normally results from uncontrolled tumour growth within the limited space of the skull. On the other hand, metastatic brain cancer signifies a progressive phase of the disease, and usually it has a poor prognosis.

Brain tumours may be benign or malignant. Benign tumours have the tendency of developing slowly and might not be related with any symptoms for a long time span. Malignant brain tumours on the other hand develop aggressively and may spread to surrounding tissues by direct invasion.

Primary brain tumours can either be cancerous or noncancerous. The two types of brain tumours are known to occupy space in the brain. Consequently, they have the capacity of introducing serious symptoms along with complications. All cancerous brain tumours are malignant since they present themselves in an aggressive as well as invasive nature.

A noncancerous primary brain tumour is known to be malignant when it compromises vital body structures, such as an artery. Primary brain tumours are categorised into two individual groups, including: glial tumours and non-glial tumours. Glial tumours grow from cells in the fibres that sustain the nerve cells in the brain, while non-glial tumours grow from the nerves, glands, or blood vessels in the brain.

Stages of Brain Tumours / Brain Cancer

There are no general staging systems for most brain tumours. However, some are classified according to grade. For instance, stem glioma are tumours in the higher region. The mid-brain tumours are more probable to be lower grade and they have a higher chance of long-term survival than tumours in the pons and the medulla.

A number of staging systems have been used for different types of tumours. Essentially, low stage brain tumours refer to smaller tumours without metastases, in which the tumour remaining after surgery is smaller. High stage refers to large tumours with evidence of metastatic spread or brain stem involvement, in which the tumour remaining after surgery is a bit larger.

Symptoms of Brain Tumours / Brain Cancer

The symptoms of brain tumours differ with respect to the location of the tumour. The grade, on the other hand, influences the manner and speed with which a tumour causes symptoms. In this context, grade refers to how much a tumour appears to resemble the normal brain. Signs and symptoms of brain tumours can be non-localizing, falsely localizing, or localizing.

Brain tumours and brain cancer have the capacity of affecting the functionality of the brain in more than one distinct ways. A brain tumour leads to the production of generalized symptoms which are associated with increased ICP, including headaches, sixth nerve palsy, nausea, vomiting, and headaches. Headaches occur in about half of all Australian patients and are characteristically diffused and most pronounced on wakening. Headaches are intensified by the size of the tumour along with the tumour pulling on brain tissues that are highly sensitive to pain, such as cranial nerves and brain lining.

Tumours in the brain induce seizures, which are usually focal as well as secondarily generalized. There is also the production of focal symptoms, including hemiparesis along with aphasia, which reflect progress invasion as well as displacement of brain tissue and can suggest tumour location. In addition, brain tumours alter endocrine patterns involving a variety of body functions.

In specific cases, the presenting symptomatology may be related to an evolving entity, with symptoms becoming more severe or new ones occurring over time. At times, the changes in symptomatology prove to be the first clue to the presence of a lesion responsible for the change in affect.

Causes of Brain Tumours / Brain Cancer

Causes of brain tumours can be placed into two broad categories, including those causes that have been confirmed and those that have not been confirmed. Among the confirmed causes, exposure to ionizing therapeutic radiation and hereditary causes are proven.

On the other hand, occupational along with dietary exposures, though possibly related have not yet been proven to be unique causes of brain cancer and tumours. The following are among possible causes that one should look out for:

Genetic predisposition: The heritability of brain tumours is suggested by several reports in Australia of these brain tumours occurring in people with hereditary syndromes, including syndromes involving adenomatous polyps, nevoid basal cell carcinoma syndrome, and tuberculosis.

Family aggregation: Because only a small proportion of brain tumours are attributed purely to hereditary, it is likely that the majority is associated with developmental variation in immune response, which itself may be influenced by both genetics and environment.

Genetic susceptibility: A large number of cancers are known to arise from gene-environment interactions where susceptible individuals develop cancer in conjunction with exposures to toxic or mutagenic environmental agents.

Industry and occupational chemical: Some compounds such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are known to induce brain tumours through direct implantation. Current research in Australia suggests that primary brain tumours may have many causes. This is the case since none of the causes thus far identified account for a very large proportion of the current covered cases.


1. What are brain tumours: http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/970/b1000/brain-cancer-brain-tumours-12/what-are-brain-tumours/?pp=32262&cc=9561&&ct=3

2. brain cancer: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Brain_cancer

3. Brain tumour symptoms: http://www.cancercouncil.com.au/16980/b1000/brain-cancer-brain-tumours-12/brain-tumour-symptoms-2/

4. Brain cancer: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Brain_cancer