Causes and Risk Factors of Brain Cancer

What are the Causes of Brain Cancer?

Brain cancer is possibly one of the scariest forms of cancer because it has limited treatment options and can affect the body in multiple ways. Since the brain controls all of the actions of the body, cancer can play a large role in altering and disabling a person quickly. Many people do not understand what causes brain cancer or brain tumors so it is helpful to learn a little background including what can be done to prevent the development of this terrible disease.

Every year about one out of every 5,000 people develops a brain tumor. The exact cause of most cases of brain cancer is unknown although there are some risk factors that have been linked to the development of brain cancer. For instance, exposure to long periods of radiation, genetic factors, exposure to environmental toxins, and smoking tobacco have all been linked to potentially causing cancer in the brain to develop. These potential risks have also been linked to cancer in general so it is best that they are minimized at all costs.

Types of Brain Cancers

There are two main types of brain cancers. The first is when one cell in the brain starts to transform or mutate from its normal state of being. As it transforms the cell begins to multiply and grow in very abnormal ways. As the abnormal cells grow, they become a tumor. In some cases, tumors do not spread and are called benign tumors; however, when tumors spread aggressively, they are known as malignant. Both types of tumors cause problems in the brain, but malignant tumors are much more serious as they take away the nutrients, space, and blood flow that healthy cells need.

The second type of brain cancer is metastatic brain cancer, when brain tumors are formed from cancerous cells that spread from other tumors in the body. When a cancer becomes metastatic, about 25% of the tumors that spread end up in the brain. Although any cancer can eventually spread to the brain and cause tumors, the most common cancers that spread are lung, breast, colon, and skin cancers, specifically melanoma.

Since doctors are still not sure why brain cancer is caused or what exactly leads cells to mutate, it is hard to state with certainty how to avoid developing the disease. However, avoiding the exposure to the above mentioned risk factors will help decrease the risks of developing brain cancer. Age is an additional risk factor as the risk of developing a brain tumor increases as a person ages. In most cases brain tumors occur in older adults, but there are some brain tumors that almost exclusively form in young children and infants. A family history of brain tumors is another risk factor as there are a small handful of genetic syndromes that can increase the chances of brain tumors. Those with this family history should be diligent and watchful for symptoms.

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Posted on May 5, 2023