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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.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: btetre53, 75 or over Female (Caregiver) Published: December 11

My mother died from brain cancer in March 2015. She went through surgery to remove the tumor, surgery to implant a shunt, surgery to remove a bleed, radiation, and oral chemotherapy. I wish she had not wanted to fight her terminal diagnosis, because she suffered for 8 months.

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Comment from: Cable1guy, 55-64 Male (Patient) Published: September 02

I had/have lung cancer but treatment chemotherapy/radiation was very successful. I experienced momentary weakness in my left hand on two occasions. Turns out the cancer moved into my brain; 1.5cm lesion. Next week I will have stereotactic radiosurgery to treat the threat. Frustrating setback, but feeling good about the procedure and my future. I probably won't be free of this forever, but one day at a time.

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Comment from: itspine, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: June 23

I am a man of 66 soon to be 67. I was diagnosed with stage IV glioblastoma on May 15, 2013. My doctors while once quite concerned pretty much said their good-byes and sent me home. I'm not sure which doctor, maybe my surgeon, got me into a clinical study in UCSF and I'm doing well. Now, first of all my tumor was small, brought to light because of a seizure, no other cancer was found in my body. The seizure dropped me to the floor and caused me to pass out, sending me to the emergency room. At first they couldn't find anything then, there it was. I've had five MRIs in the past 8 months, I'm now doing MRIs every three months because the past five have shown no growth. This first one in early July has a three month span, so here's hoping things are well. I have some minor numbing in my left hand, fingers 4 and 5. I am taking the chemotherapy once a month. I lost some hair that had not fallen out already, and a few blood spots on my arms from the steroids. My energy level is very good although I still nap about 1 to 1/2 hours a day. In the past year I've had five or six seizures, on a scale of 1-10 with my original about an 8, they've all been ones or twos. I'm hopeful that I'll get some form of my license back. Even, if just daylight driving. Finally, I have no questions relative to this taking my life at some point in time. To this extent I've had the talk with my two kids and wife, have finances in order, and spend as much time in Carmel, CA, as I can.

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