Brain Cancer: Myths and Facts

When we hear about brain cancer there’s nothing we want more than to search for information from wherever we can find it so we can make sense of it. The thing is that we can not always be sure if any of it is backed up by science or if it's just something that has been spread as a common belief. In fact, is not altogether true. False information and wrong beliefs around the topic can lead to confusion, needless worrying can even hinder your ability to take action into preventing it or seeking help. This is why we decided to bring the 5 most commonly believed statements about it in order to show which ones are myths and which ones are facts.


1- There are different types of brain cancer with some being more common than others.

Fact. Majority of brain tumors come from the implantation (metastasis) of a primary tumor from another organ (for example, lung cancer, breast cancer, etc.). In second place we have gliomas, which are tumors that are formed inside the brain and come from the glial cells that surround and nurture the neurons. Another type of common brain cancer (tumor) is the one that appears in the membrane that covers the encephalon (meningeal),and is called meningioma, which are usually benign.


2- There’s already a defined and only cause for brain cancer (tumors).

Myth. The cause of primary brain tumors is not well defined in most of the cases. For example, patients that have their immunity system compromised have an increased risk of developing encephalic lymphoma. Some hereditary conditions, like neurofibromatosis also increase the risk of developing brain tumors. Children that received radiotherapy as a treatment for leukemia have a higher risk than the average for the development of brain tumors over the course of their lives.


3- If a person develops a brain tumor, their relatives have an increased risk of developing tumors.

Partially Myth. Just a small percentage of brain tumors is related to genetic conditions (for example, type 2 neurofibromatosis). Majority of brain tumors are developed without there being a family genetic factor involved. In the case of known genetic illnesses that prevail within a family, there might be a need to look for a geneticist to test the members of the group.

4- Brain tumors bring symptoms with them.

Fact. With the advancement of modern neuroimaging techniques, many tumors are identified when patients develop mild signs and symptoms, such as headache. Normally, brain tumors present themselves with symptoms associated with their location and can simulate cerebral vascular accidents ("spills"). For example, a patient who develops progressive paralysis in the left arm or leg may be at risk of developing a tumor on the right side of the brain. Another symptom commonly associated with brain tumors, especially in young patients, are seizures. Other symptoms related to brain tumors include persistent nausea and vomiting, double vision and excessive sleepiness.

5- All brain tumors lead to death.

Myth. The patient with a brain tumor is an individual, not part of a statistic number. Each person with a neoplasm will have a different response to treatment. Live your life to your fullest every day and remain optimistic, because not even the best specialist can accurately predict the outcome of a disease.

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