- Patient Comments: Brain Cancer - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Brain Cancer - Experience
- Patient Comments: Brain Cancer - Prognosis
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- Brain cancer facts
- What is brain cancer?
- What are grades of brain cancers?
- What are the types of brain cancers?
- What is brain cancer staging?
- What is metastatic brain cancer?
- What causes brain cancer?
- Do cell phones cause brain cancer?
- What are brain cancer symptoms and signs?
- What type of doctors treat brain cancer?
- What tests do doctors use to diagnose brain cancer?
- What is the treatment for brain cancer?
- Are there any home remedies for brain cancer?
- What are the side effects of brain cancer treatment?
- What is the prognosis of treated brain cancer?
- What can I do to help my family (and me) cope with my diagnosis of brain cancer?
- Is it possible to prevent brain cancer?
- Where can I get more information about my type of brain cancer?
Quick GuideUnderstanding Cancer: Metastasis, Stages of Cancer, and More
What is brain cancer?
Brain cancer is a disease of the brain in which cancer cells (malignant cells) arise in the brain tissue. Cancer cells grow to form a mass of cancer tissue (tumor) that interferes with brain functions such as muscle control, sensation, memory, and other normal body functions. Tumors composed of cancer cells are called malignant tumors, and those composed of mainly noncancerous cells are called benign tumors. Cancer cells that develop from brain tissue are called primary brain tumors while tumors that spread from other body sites to the brain are termed metastatic or secondary brain tumors. Statistics suggest that brain cancer occurs infrequently (1.4% of all new cancer patients per year), so it is not considered to be a common illness and is likely to develop in about 23,770 new people per year with about 16,050 deaths as estimated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Cancer Society. Only about 5% of brain tumors may be due to hereditary genetic conditions such as neurofibromatosis, tuberous sclerosis, and a few others.
What are grades of brain cancers?
Not all brain tumors are alike, even if they arise from the same type of brain tissue. Tumors are assigned a grade depending on how the cells in the tumor appear microscopically. The grade also provides insight as to the cell's growth rate. NCI lists the following grades from benign to most aggressive (grade IV):
- Grade I: The tissue is benign. The cells look nearly like normal brain cells, and they grow slowly.
- Grade II: The tissue is malignant. The cells look less like normal cells than do the cells in a grade I tumor.
- Grade III: The malignant tissue has cells that look very different from normal cells. The abnormal cells are actively growing and have a distinctly abnormal appearance (anaplastic).
- Grade IV: The malignant tissue has cells that look most abnormal and tend to grow quickly.