Brain cancer is an abnormal growth of nerve tissue or other nerve-related tissue within the confines of the brain. Brain cancer can be formed from blood vessels and membranes within the brain and can put pressure on the existing brain tissue or can come from brain tissue itself. In some cases, there can be a brain tumour which is metastatic from another body area such as the lung or breast. Not all tumours of the brain are cancerous. Cancerous tumours often grow aggressively, taking up space within the brain and causing the brain to swell. Death ultimately occurs when the brain begins to bleed or when the size of the tumour is so big that the brain pushes through the foramen magnum at the level of the brainstem.

Cancerous tumors of the brain grow much more aggressively and invade brain tissue than does a brain tumour. A benign brain tumour can be removed with complete resolution of symptoms if the brain tumour is not too big. Brain cancer often cannot be killed, even with aggressive surgery to remove the cancerous tissue. Primary brain cancer or brain tumours originate in the brain and metastatic brain tumours originate elsewhere in the body. Common types of brain tumours include meningiomas, gliomas, pituitary adenomas, vestibular schwannomas, primary CNS lymphomas and medulloblastomas. There are many types of gliomas that behave slightly differently from one another. The tumours are related to the site of the tumour's origin.

Tumours are rated by grade. This is the aggressiveness of the tumour. Grade I tumours are benign tumours with slow cell growth. Grade II tumours are cancerous but grow slowly and have slightly abnormal cells. Grade III tumours are moderately rapidly growing and the cells are called anaplastic cells. Grade IV cells grow the fastest and have cells that look the most abnormal under the microscope.

Metastatic brain cancers behave like the primary tumour. The most common sites where cancers spread to the brain are lung, breast, malignant melanoma (skin) and the kidney. Metastatic tumours to brain are much more common than are primary brain cancers. They are named after the origin of the cancer, such as metastatic breast cancer to brain. About 85 percent settle in the cerebrum of the brain and the rest settle in the brainstem or cerebellum. Most metastatic brain cancers are multiple; single brain tumours from metastatic disease are less common. About 22,000 people develop brain tumours each year.

Risk factors for brain cancer include previous head radiation, heredity and having an HIV infection. Cigarette smoking is related to getting cancer of the brain. There is some though that environmental toxins cause brain cancer. These can include oil refinery chemicals, embalming fluids, and chemicals used in the rubber industry.

The symptoms of brain cancer depend on where the tumour is located and on its size. Some brain cancers have no symptoms at all, especially frontal lobe tumours and some tumours of the pituitary gland. Major symptoms include weakness of a body area, headache, poor balance and coordination, seizures and problems walking. There can be nausea, vomiting and an altered mental status, poor memory or vision difficulties. There can be speech problems and a gradual lessening of one's intellect. Stroke-like symptoms are not uncommon.

The tests for a brain cancer include a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain. If it is done with contrast media, it can show the cancer more readily. Doctors also do blood testing of those things related to coagulation, blood counts and electrolytes, which may be abnormal. In addition, a brain biopsy is performed that can tell the grade and type of cancer growing in the brain. This is done using brain surgery.

The treatment of brain cancer involves doing surgery if possible to remove the bulk or the entire tumour. This is usually followed by chemotherapy and radiation directed at killing the brain cancer cells. Many brain cancers respond well to radiotherapy and it can be curative in some cases.


Medical Negligence Solicitors

Our brain cancer solicitors operate the no win no fee scheme which is totally without risk. You only pay legal charges if the case is won. There are no upfront charges to pay whatsoever. If you would like to discuss your potential compensation claim with a specialist medical negligence solicitor just complete the contact form or email our solicitors offices or use the helpline. Once you have provided sufficient information you will speak with a brain cancer solicitor who will advise you on the prospects of success for your claim and an estimated amount of compensation that may be awarded. Our advice is totally without cost and there is no further obligation to use our legal services. Do yourself justice and give us a call.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here