Today is World Brain Tumor Day. Celebrated every year on June 8th, countries band together to remember those who were lost to brain tumors. And, raise money to fund research and public health programs.
Recognize World Brain Tumor Day
Brain tumors develop when cells don’t properly go through their life cycle. When normal cells age or become damaged, they are supposed to die and be replaced by new healthy cells. With cancer, the cells either start producing even though it isn’t time for that, or the cells don’t die when they have reached their end. The cell growth forms a mass of tissue, which is referred to as a tumor. Sometimes these tumors are benign, meaning non-cancerous. Other times they are malignant, meaning that they are cancerous. Today, we’re going to take a look at the different types of brain tumors, and different grades of brain tumors.
Benign Brain Tumors
Let’s start with benign brain tumors. Benign tumors are generally not dangerous. However, in the brain, even a benign brain tumor can cause very serious health issues. Because the brain is so complex, and controls every aspect of our bodies, if a benign tumor is pressing on certain parts of the brain it can prevent it from working properly. For this reason, some benign tumors can become life threatening. This is especially true when they are in the area of the brain that controls autonomic nervous system functions (such as heartbeat or breathing).
Some benign brain tumors may also become malignant. Usually, if the benign tumor is in an area that can be reached with relative safety, doctors and patients decide to remove them. This eliminates the possibility that the tumor may become cancerous. Most benign brain tumors usually have clear borders or edges. This makes them easier to remove. And, it means that they likely won’t invade surrounding brain tissue. Benign tumors can usually be removed, and once they are gone, they typically won’t grow back. Benign brain tumors do not spread to other parts of the body the way that cancer does.
Malignant Brain Tumors
Malignant brain tumors contain cancer cells. Cancer cells divide uncontrollably and invade and badly damage surrounding body tissue. Malignant brain tumors are dangerous, and frequently life threatening. These tumors grow very quickly, and begin to press on or invade the healthy brain tissue that surrounds it. Malignant brain tumors will continue to invade surrounding tissue until there is no healthy tissue left.
Cancer cells can also detach from the tumor and get into the blood stream. When cancer cells reach other parts of the body, tumors begin to grow there, too. These cancer cells are considered metastatic. The good news is that most malignant brain tumors don’t metastasize and spread to other parts of the body. Malignant brain tumors that begin in the brain, rather than as the result of a cancer that has metastasized somewhere else in the body, are called primary brain tumors.
Types of Brain Tumors
There are a lot of different types of primary brain tumors. The three most common types of primary brain tumors in adults are called astrocytoma, oligodendroglioma, and meningioma. Primary brain tumors are defined by what kind of cells they come from, or where in the brain they begin. For example, primary brain tumors commonly arise from glial cells. Therefore, this type of tumor is called a glioma. Let’s take a closer look at the three most common types of primary brain tumors in a little more depth. To learn more, please check out this link from the Mayo Clinic that goes into much more detail. It is a resource for brain tumor information.
Primary Brain Tumors
As stated in the previous paragraph, gliomas come from glial cells in the supportive tissue of the brain. Two of the three most common types of primary brain tumors, astrocytoma’s and oligodendroglioma’s, fall under the umbrella of gliomas. Astrocytomas are gliomas that begin in astrocytes, which are glial cells that are shaped like stars. There are different grades of astrocytomas. Most astrocytomas begin in the cerebrum, in adults. (Brain cancer in children has different statistics, so it’s important to specify.) Oligodendrogliomas are gliomas that begin in the cells that make the substance that protects and covers nerves. Like astrocytomas, oligodendrogliomas also generally begin in the cerebrum. This type of glioma is most common in middle-aged people.
Meningiomas are the other third most common type of primary brain tumors in adults. They begin in the meninges, which are found right under the skull, in the outer coverings of the brain. Meningiomas are most often benign and slow growing. This type of primary brain tumor accounts for around one third of brain tumors.
Tumor Grading Scale
There is a grading scale for primary brain tumors. They range from grade I to grade IV. Lower-grade tumors tend to grow more slowly, while higher-grade tumors grow more quickly. Low-grade tumors can grow into high-grade tumors. Grade I tumors are benign. They grow very slowly, and the cells within the tumor look somewhat similar to healthy brain cells. Grade II tumors are malignant. The cells look less healthy than the cells of a grade I tumor. The tumor grows more quickly than a grade I tumor, but just slightly faster. Grade III tumors and malignant, and considered a high-grade tumor. The abnormal cells are growing, and look very different from normal healthy cells. The actively growing cells are called anaplastic. Grade IV tumors are malignant, and very serious. Grade IV tumors grow the fastest, and look nothing like a normal healthy cell.
There are many other types of primary brain tumors that I haven’t covered here, because the post would be much too long for me to expect anyone to read. So, I hope you understand that I just covered the basics, instead. I will eventually get to cover more about primary brain tumors in the future. If you’re interested in reading the first awareness blog post about brain tumors, which covers the basics, just search “brain tumors” in the “search by cause” section of our website. It will show up in the list, along with all other relevant information about brain tumors.
Personalized Cause and Brain Tumor Awareness
If you are a new reader, welcome! I’m so glad you stumbled across us and decided to give us a read. This awareness blog is run and created by Personalized Cause®. Personalized Cause® is an awareness accessory brand that is known for custom awareness ribbons. In fact, Personalized Cause® is the number one source for custom awareness ribbons in the United States.
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