Brain cancer is a difficult and sometimes deadly disease caused by the growth of malignant cells in the brain. What causes these cells to start growing is still an area of great medical uncertainty, although research is conducted almost constantly and new information is revealed almost every day. Although no one can say for sure what causes brain cancer, scientists and medical professionals have obtained a great deal of information about preventing and treating the disease.
Brain cancer is not necessarily the same thing as a brain tumor. A brain tumor is a lump of tissue made up of cells that can be detrimental to normal brain functions. However, the tumor can be made of benign cells, making it different than a cancerous, or malignant, tumor. Malignant tumors can either originate in the brain or can move there from another cancer-infected organ, such as the lungs. If the brain is not the original site of cancerous cells in the body, the malignant brain tumor is called metastatic.
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There have been many theories about what causes malignant brain tumors. Some experts believe it is caused by overexposure to certain chemicals. This evidence is somewhat supported by research that shows higher cancer rates in people with certain professions that involve chemicals, such as oil refinery workers. However, there are so many possible causes of cancer it is difficult to tell whether the correlation is coincidental or causal in nature.
Many experts believe that genetic conditions may also be a factor that can cause brain cancer. People with specific conditions, such as von Hipple-Lindau disease or retinoblastoma, have been shown to have a higher rate of certain tumors, including those associated with brain cancer. Other research has discovered cases where several members of a family, who share similar genetics, all suffered from brain tumors. Again, although research has vastly increased scientific knowledge of the subject, most experts still cannot say with certainty how or in what way genetics may become a factor.
Speculations on what causes brain cancer vary from microwaves to contaminated water to cell phone use. Unfortunately, much of the testing done in recent years is performed on animals such as rats or other small mammals. While these creatures have systems similar to humans, a simple fact of testing is that a human may react to a stimulus entirely differently than a rat. This makes much of the data about what causes cancer difficult to test for veracity, as what causes cancer in a rat isn’t necessarily going to cause it in a human. For the most part, scientists do agree that one claim is untrue: it is very unlikely that brain cancer is caused by head trauma, as it was once believed.
If you are concerned that you might have brain cancer or a brain tumor, consult your doctor immediately. Common symptoms include loss or change in motor functions, loss of eyesight or dizziness. As with most cancers, the earlier a brain tumor is caught, the higher the chance of a successful treatment program, so be sure to see a doctor or neurologist as soon as unexplained symptoms occur.