A cancer is a malignant tumor of cells that replicates itself excessively so that the cancer cells begin to overtake the body.
At this time, there are only two known types of tumors that cause brain cancer. The first are called primary brown tumors, and the second is known as secondary metastatic brain tumors. Metastatic tumors are caused by cancerous cells that have moved up from other locations in the body.
Primary brown tumors can be either cancerous or non-cancerous. That is, the cells of the tumor may multiply but then stop or continue to multiply uncontrollably. Both types of primary brown tumors can cause complications including stroke, vision loss and hearing loss. Primary brain tumors rarely attack the central nervous system, and if it does attack, it is not usually the cause of death.
Death by primary brown tumors commonly results from the large size of the tumor, which grows uncontrollably inside the skull.
Any cancerous brain tumor is life threatening. The effect of the tumor on the brain is to impact brain functions, from memory areas to perceptual and reasoning function. Sometimes brain tumors can attack vital functions and structures such as arteries.
Secondary metastatic brain tumors are necessarily cancerous. It is caused by cancerous cells migrating from some other cancer in the body to the brain where it behaves exactly as a primary brown tumor with equal effect and impact on the brain.
The prognosis for those with primary brain cancer is not promising. Out of the 17,000 people diagnosed with primary brain cancer in the United States each year, about 13,000 perish from the disease. In children, the occurrence is much lower at only 3 in every 100,000.
The leading cause of cancer-related death in people under the age of 35 is brain cancer. Generally, 15 - 20 people in every 100,000 are diagnosed with brain cancer. Half of these cancer cases are due to primary intra-cranial tumors, and the other half are due to the secondary type.
About 100,000 people are diagnosed in the United States with secondary brain cancer each year. Approximately 20-30% of people with untreated metastatic cancers are eventually diagnosed with secondary brain cancer.
Other than vinyl chloride, there are not any known environmental or chemical influences known to cause brain cancer.
Vinyl chloride is prevalent in tobacco smoke, the manufacture of pipes, wire coatings, furniture, car parts, housewares, and many other plastic products. Some diseases are also known to retard the genes that suppress the growth of malignant cells.
Most of these diseases are inherited, such as pituitary adenoma, neurofibromatosis type 2, retinoblastoma, tuberous sclerosis, and Von Hippel-Lindau disease. Some people who have, or have had melanoma, breast, lung, kidney, or colon cancer are at some risk of developing secondary brain cancer.
Surgery and chemotherapy have had some success in defeating brain cancer, but much work remains to be done for an effective cure.