FAQ

Below are Frequently Asked Questions about brain tumours.

What is a tumour?

A tumour is any abnormal mass that results when cells multiply uncontrollably.

What are some of the more common brain tumour signs & symptoms?

  • Headaches
  • Visual disturbance/double vision
  • Seizures
  • Morning nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Personality changes
  • Dizziness or unsteadiness
  • Hearing impairment

Why are brain tumours complex and unique?

Brain tumours are located in the control centre for thought, emotion, and movement and can cause intellectual and physical impairment. Brain tumours are difficult to understand and treat because of their diversity, location and tendency to recur, and the difficulty of delivering effective therapies across the protective blood-brain barrier. There are over 120 different types of brain tumours, making effective treatment very complicated.

What is the difference between a non-malignant and a malignant brain tumour?

A non-malignant (benign) brain tumour consists of slow-growing cells, has distinct borders, and rarely spreads to other locations. Non-malignant tumours can place pressure on sensitive tissues and impair mental and physical functions, and also may cause death. In some cases, non-malignant tumours may recur or become malignant.

Malignant brain tumours often grow quickly and can be life threatening as they invade normal brain tissue and create pressure within the skull. Treatment may cause the tumour to go into remission.

Who is at risk for developing a brain tumour?

Brain tumours do not discriminate. Each year, approximately 10,000 people in Canada are diagnosed with a primary or metastatic brain tumour, with an estimated 55,000 Canadians surviving with a brain tumour. Brain tumours are the leading cause of solid cancer death for children under the age of 20, and are the third leading cause of solid cancer death in young adults, ages 20-39. Brain tumours are also one of the fastest growing causes of cancer death in the elderly.

How are brain tumours treated?

Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy used individually or in combination are the three most common treatments for brain tumours.

Is there a cure for brain tumours?

There is no cure but a number of new approaches show promise. New research is targeting the biological processes that cause normal cells to multiply abnormally. Other basic and clinical research is investigating angiogenesis inhibitors, differentiating agents, gene therapy, immunotherapy and invasion inhibitors. Existing approaches to treating brain tumours are being refined, including new surgical techniques, stereotactic radiosurgery and new drug delivery systems.

 

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