The Science Behind: Brain Tumors

There is a less than 1% chance that an average person will develop a brain tumor in their lifetime. Yet we’ve all heard about brain tumors. What is a brain tumor? What are the causes, effects, and symptoms of a brain tumor? Can it be cured?



According to cancer.gov, a brain tumor is “the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the brain”. Abnormal cells are cells that can turn into cancer if untreated. A brain tumor is called malignant if it is harmful and benign if it isn’t. Malignant brain tumors are cancerous, so in other words, a malignant brain tumor is brain cancer.


Headaches are the most common symptom of a brain tumor. Loss of abilities that are controlled by a certain area of the brain means that the tumor is located in that particular area. For example, since the cerebellum controls motor skills, if you have a tumor in your cerebellum, you will lose your motor skills. Other symptoms of a brain tumor include nausea, fatigue, insomnia, and seizures.



There are two types of genes in our body that are responsible for growth, division, and death of our cells: oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Oncogenes help cells grow and divide while tumor suppressor genes curb growth and division of cells. When tumor suppressor genes stop working, brain tumors can occur.


An MRI is a machine used to scan one’s brain for a tumor. It can show the size and shape of the tumor with accuracy and clarity. Once doctors have seen the scan of the tumor, they proceed to cure it.



Doctors perform a biopsy (removal of tissue) to examine the tumor’s tissue before removing the tumor completely. In most cases of benign brain tumors, surgery is all that is needed to cure it. Doctors actually take a part of the person’s skull out in order to remove the tumor. What’s even crazier is that they use the same bone to cover the hole once the tumor is removed!



Radiation therapy is the usage of x-rays to remove a brain tumor. It is usually given along with chemotherapy (treatment using drugs) in order to slow or stop abnormal, cancerous cells from growing in the brain.

Surgery and radiation therapy are just two of the many ways to cure and give therapy for brain tumors. How doctors cure or give therapy for a brain tumor depends on its exact location in the brain, its size and shape, and whether it is malignant or benign.


FUN FACT: It takes around 10-15 years for a precancer to turn into cancer.


Hope you enjoyed reading this article! If you want more information on brain tumors, check out the links below.



SOURCES:

https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/brain-tumor

https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/brain-tumor

https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html


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