Go Gray in May!
May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. No one knows what causes brain tumors; there are only a few known risk factors that have been established by research.
Children who receive radiation to the head have a higher risk of developing a brain tumor as adults, as do people who have certain rare genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis or Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. But those cases represent a fraction of the approximately 35,000 new primary brain tumors diagnosed each year. Age is also a risk factor - people over the age of 65 are diagnosed with brain cancer at a rate four times higher than younger people.
A primary brain tumor is one that originates in the brain, and not all primary brain tumors are cancerous; benign tumors are not aggressive and normally do not spread to surrounding tissues, although they can be serious and even life threatening.
Symptoms of brain tumors vary according to the type of tumor and the location. Because different areas of the brain control different functions of the body, where the tumor lies affects the way symptoms are manifested.
Some tumors have no symptoms until they are quite large and then cause a serious, rapid decline in health. Other tumors may have symptoms that develop slowly.
A common initial symptom of a brain tumor is headaches. Often, they don't respond to the usual headache remedies. Keep in mind that most headaches are unrelated to brain tumors.
- Other symptoms include:
- Changes in speech or hearing
- Changes in vision
- Balance problems
- Problems walking
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Problems with memory
- Personality changes
- Inability to concentrate
- Weakness in one part of the body
It's important to keep in mind that these symptoms can be caused by a number of different conditions. Don't panic, but do see a doctor as soon as possible. Many of these symptoms are related to other very serious conditions that also require medical attention as soon as possible for best results.
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