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Difference Between Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer

Brain Tumor

Difference Between Brain Tumor and Brain Cancer

Every cell in the human body multiply in a controlled manner through a process called cell cycle regulation. When this process becomes disturbed, normal cells evolve to become cancer cells. This occurs through a series of factors that induces a cellular change at the genetic and epigenetic levels, which produces abnormal cellular proliferation. This process of cellular evolution is called carcinogenesis, oncogenesis, or tumorigenesis. Because of a disruption in cell cycle regulation, cancers usually present as clump of cells, which are referred to as a tumor. However, not all tumors are cancerous because there are also tumoral growths which are termed as benign. Similar to cancerous tumors, benign tumors generally occur as a result of a disruption in cell cycle regulation. In contrast to cancerous tumors, benign tumors do not grow as rapidly, and they are usually confined to a particular location of the body. In light of this, tumors can grow in any part of the body, including the brain. This article aims to provide a summary of the differences between brain tumors and brain cancer.

PET scans of brain tumor

Brain Tumors

Brain tumors can from any cellular component of nervous system. Tumors of the brain and its cellular constituents comprise approximately 95% of tumors within the central nervous system. Because they are located within the cranial cavity, clinical signs and symptoms vary depending on the size of the brain tumor and its specific location. Patients with brain tumors commonly complain of headaches, nausea, and vomiting. They may also present to the doctor with motor weakness, sensory changes, facial drooping, language deficits, and cognitive decline. Brain tumors are further classified into benign and malignant brain tumors. In order to classify them, medical specialists examine the brain tissue under the microscope, wherein they use special stains to distinguish brain tumors that are benign from those that are malignant. Benign brain tumors are slow growing and they do not spread to other areas of the body. However, its clinical presentation is similar to that of malignant brain tumors because they can also grow within the cranial cavity, producing classical symptoms that were previously mentioned. The difference between benign brain tumors and malignant brain tumors account for its invasiveness, wherein the latter is known to be more invasive. In this regard, individuals with benign brain tumors have a better chance of survival compared to those with malignant brain tumors. Usually, benign brain tumors can be cured by surgical removal of the affected tissue. In contrast, malignant brain tumors do not have a cure, but can be treated with a combination of different treatment modalities.

Brain Cancer

Every year, approximately 23,000 individuals from the United States are diagnosed with brain cancer. Among these individuals, more than half will die from complications of the disease. Although the survival rate of brain cancer depends on the specific type of tumor and other factors, the survival rate of brain cancer generally decreases as after one year from diagnosis. Compared to benign brain tumors, cancerous cells that comprise malignant brain tumors multiply rapidly. This accounts for worse symptoms of headache, nausea, and vomiting. Some malignant tumors also have an increased predisposition to bleed, which can give rise to symptoms of a cerebrovascular disease. In contrast to benign brain tumors, malignant brain tumors may also arise as a result of spread from other parts of the body. As an example, cancerous cells of the lung can also spread to the brain producing a malignant brain tumor. Brain tumors that results from cancerous spread from different parts of the body are known as metastatic brain tumors. In contrast, malignant brain tumors that grow arise from cellular constituents of the central nervous system are termed as primary malignant brain tumors. As previously mentioned, there is no known cure for brain cancer. Doctors typically provide treatment in order to improve survival and preserve functional capacity. In this regard, treatment modalities that are available for brain cancer include a combination of brain surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and immunotherapy. Individuals with advanced brain cancer are treated by palliative modalities.

Brain tumors can be classified into benign or malignant tumors. Because they arise in the cranial cavity, both benign and malignant tumors can produce symptoms of headache, nausea, and vomiting. Depending on the specific region of the brain that is affected, both tumors can also present with sensory impairment, paralysis, language impairment, or cognitive decline. Generally, benign tumors can be cured by surgical procedures. In contrast, brain cancer has no cure, but can be treated with a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. Compared to benign tumors, cancerous tumors of the brain are more clinically aggressive, which places a negative impact on disease survival. Aside from intrinsic development in the brain, some types of brain cancers can also occur as a result of cancer spread from other parts of the body, which is termed as metastasis. On the other hand, benign tumors of the brain grow primarily within the cranial cavity.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for such a useful post.

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References :

[0]American Brain Tumor Association. (2014). Brain Tumor Statistics. Retrieved January 30, 2017, from http://www.abta.org/about-us/news/brain-tumor-statistics

[1]Aminoff, M. J., & Daroff, R. B. (2014). Encyclopedia of the neurological sciences. San Diego, CA: Academic.

[2]DeWit, S. C., & Kumagai, C. K. (2013). Medical-surgical nursing: concepts & practice. St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.

[3]Hoshide, R., & Jandial, R. (2016). 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Central Nervous System Tumors: An Era of Molecular Biology. World Neurosurgery, 94, 561-562. doi:10.1016/j.wneu.2016.07.082

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