Brain Cancer in Adults

Primary brain tumors (tumors that begin in the brain rather than spread to the brain from elsewhere in the body) do not usually spread to other parts of the body, but both malignant and benign tumors in the brain can invade other areas of the brain and damage tissue. Brain tumors are often discussed collectively with spinal cord tumors, as both types of cancer develop in the central nervous system. Brain and spinal cord tumors are very different in children and adults. This guide focuses on how the condition affects adults, but you can read more about Brain Cancer in Children.

Brain Cancer Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 23,130 cases of malignant tumors in the brain or spinal cord are diagnosed in the United States annually – 12,770 males and 10, 360 females. Of these cases, about 14,080 will be fatal. Survival rates are largely dependent on the size of the tumor, its location, the age of the patient and how early the tumor is detected.

Risk factors for brain and spinal cord tumors include:

  • Radiation or chemical exposure
  • Family history
  • Immune system disorders
  • Being Caucasian

Signs & Symptoms of Brain Cancer

Possible symptoms of a brain tumor in certain areas of the brain or spinal cord include:

  • Cerebrum – seizures, difficulty speaking, changes in vision or hearing, paralysis
  • Basal ganglia – weakness, paralysis, tremors, involuntary movements
  • Cerebellum – difficulty walking, trouble with fine motor skills, problems swallowing
  • Brain stem – problems with sensation, hearing, eye movements and facial movements
  • Spinal cord – tingling or paralysis in the arms or legs, bladder or bowel dysfunction
  • Cranial nerves – vision problems, trouble swallowing, hearing loss, facial paralysis

Brain Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment

A brain or spinal cord tumor is usually detected through testing once an individual exhibits symptoms; there is no widely used screening method for tumors of the central nervous system. The most common diagnostic methods include:

  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Cerebral angiography
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • High field open MRI
Brain and spinal cord tumors are primarily treated with some combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Targeted therapy may also be recommended, which are medications designed to alter the inner workings of cells. For instance, a drug called bevacizumab helps to prevent tumors from developing blood vessels, thus eliminating their supply of nutrients.

Brain Cancer Education, Screenings & Treatment at BayCare

BayCare is proud to offer a variety of cancer services throughout Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay. Call (855) 314-8346 for a physician referral or find a doctor near you. 


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