Brain Tumors and Neuro - Oncology

Benign and malignant. Benign tumors are typically formed by slow growing cells that rarely spread. Although they can press on and damage nearby normal tissue, benign tumors are much less dangerous than malignant tumors. However, they can be life-threatening if they endanger vital brain centers. However, overtime, some benign tumors can become malignant. Malignant brain tumors, on the other hand, are formed by cells that typically grow quickly and are capable of invading nearby tissues and spreading to other parts of the body. Their tendencies to invade and spread make these tumors much more dangerous. Malignant tumors of the brain often spread to other parts of the central nervous system. Only relatively few spread to other parts of the body. The cause of most brain cancers is unknown. In general, cancers are due to a combination of inherited genetic factors coupled with some exposure during life, such as exposure to a chemical, a virus or radiation. Of these, the best case has been made for exposure to high doses of radiation, such as those given as part of cancer treatment, and an increased risk of subsequent brain cancer. Exposure to some chemicals in the workplace has also been found to increase the risk of developing brain cancer. Infections may play a role as well: the virus that causes mononucleosis, the Epstein-Barr virus, has been linked to an increased risk of a form of lymphoma that affects the central nervous system, CNS lymphoma, which also is more common among individuals infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Genetics play a particularly important role in a number of brain tumors that are clearly linked to a number of inherited disorders and disorders due to chromosome damage.

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