Today is World Brain Tumor Day!
Hey friends! I’m so glad you’ve joined us for another awareness blog post. Today is Brain Tumor Awareness Month, so that will be the subject of our post today. Last month I did an awareness blog post about brain tumors, so for those of you that read it, today will be all new information. Don’t worry; I wouldn’t make you read the same thing twice! There is so much to learn about brain tumors that I have plenty of new material to cover. I hope you guys have all had a wonderful week since our last post. I’ve basically just been running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off since my last post, so, I’m hoping that this next week will calm down so I can get some more research and work done. You guys know how it is. Let’s get to the point, shall we?
Today is World Brain Tumor Day, which is celebrated every year on June 8th all over the world. Every year, countries band together to remember those that were lost to brain tumors, and raise money to fund research and public health programs.
Brain tumors develop when cells don’t go through their life cycle properly. When normal cells age or become damaged, they are supposed to die, and then be replaced by a new healthy cell. 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 not cancerous, and 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.
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 and how they function, 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, particularly when 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 to eliminate the possibility it may become cancerous. Most benign brain tumors usually have clear borders or edges, which make them easier to remove, and means that they likely wont invade surrounding brain tissue. Benign tumors can usually be removed, and once they are gone, they probably won’t grow back. Benign tumors are more like flukes, but in some cases they may return. Benign brain tumors do not spread to other parts of the body, the way that cancer does. If you develop a benign brain tumor, it won’t cause benign tumors to start popping up in other parts of your body.
Moving on to malignant brain tumors, aka cancerous brain tumors or brain cancer. 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. Most malignant brain tumors would kill the patient eventually, if left untreated. Malignant brain 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 traveling cancer cells that begin growing tumors in other areas mean that the cancer is metastatic. Metastatic tumors are kind of like the original cancer setting up colonies in an effort to claim the area. 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.
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, and therefore the 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.
First up, we have Gliomas. As you just read in the last 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. Meningiomas begin in the meninges, which are found right under the skull, in the outer coverings of the brain. Meningiomas are most often benign, and grow slowly. This type of primary brain tumor accounts for around one third of brain tumors.
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 similar to healthy brain cells, but just slightly off. 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 than 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 have 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. I don’t want to write posts that are TLDR, cause then nobody will learn anything. So, I hope you will all understand that I just covered the basics, instead. I will probably 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.
Thanks so much for reading everybody, and I hope you come back next week for another awareness blog post!
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