Brain Cancer Information
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Video: Primary Brain TumorsDr. Clinton Baird, a neurosurgeon at our hospital in Tulsa, explains what a primary brain tumor is and how it is different from a metastatic brain tumor.
Primary vs. Metastatic Brain Tumors
CTCA neurosurgeon Dr. Clinton Baird explains what a primary brain tumor is and how it differs from a metastatic brain tumor.
What is Brain Cancer?
Primary brain cancer develops from cells within the brain. Part of the central nervous system (CNS), the brain is the control center for vital functions of the body, including speech, movement, thoughts, feelings, memory, vision, hearing, and more.
Primary brain tumors are classified by the type of cell or tissue the tumor affects, and the location and grade of the tumor. Tumor cells may travel short distances within the brain, but generally won't travel outside of the brain itself.
When cancer develops elsewhere in the body and spreads (metastasizes) to the brain, it’s called a secondary brain tumor, or metastatic brain cancer. Metastatic brain tumors are more common than primary brain tumors. Some cancers that commonly spread to the brain include lung, colon, kidney and breast cancers.
Benign brain tumors
An abnormal growth of cells forming in the brain does not always lead to a brain cancer diagnosis. Some brain tumors are benign (non-cancerous). Although they rarely spread to other parts of the body, benign brain tumors can still, as they grow, destroy and compress normal brain tissue, causing significant health problems that require treatment.
Other Neurological Cancers
Aside from tumors in the brain, cancer can begin in, or spread to, other areas of the central nervous system, such as the spinal cord or column, or the peripheral nerves. Cancer that develops in the spinal cord or its surrounding structures is called spinal cancer. Most tumors of the spine are metastatic tumors, which have spread to the spine from another location in the body.
Brain Cancer Incidence
Each year, over 190,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumor (National Brain Tumor Society).
Metastatic brain tumors make up the majority, with an estimated incidence of about 10 times that of primary brain tumors. About 17,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary brain cancer each year (National Cancer Institute).
While brain tumors can develop at any age, studies show that brain cancer incidence occur most commonly in children younger than eight years old and adults over age 50.
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