May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Nearly 70,000 people will be diagnosed with one just this year. The exact cause of a brain tumor is unknown so, other than generally healthy lifestyle choices, these tumors can't really be prevented. This month, we encourage you to learn more about this disease, share your knowledge with others and raise awareness of the need for new and innovative research and treatments.
What is a brain tumor?
Brain tumors occur when there is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain. There are two types of brain tumors: benign and malignant. The main difference between the two is that benign tumors do not contain cancer cells and malignant tumors do. A benign tumor is generally easier to remove because it has an obvious border or edge and does not disturb the tissues around it, but can cause serious health problems if it presses against sensitive areas of the brain. These types of tumors also rarely grow back. A malignant tumor (also known as brain cancer) can grow more rapidly and is likely to invade nearby healthy brain tissue. These cancer cells may spread to other parts of the brain or spinal cord.
How will I know if I have a brain tumor?
Since there are many types of brain tumors that can invade many areas of the brain, symptoms vary from case to case. The most common symptoms of brain tumors include:
- Changes in speech, vision or hearing
- Changes in mood, personality or ability to concentrate
- Problems with memory
- Problems balancing or walking
How does UAB treat brain tumors?
The UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center is known throughout the country as a leader in brain tumor research. The physicians in the Cancer Center’s nuero-oncology clinic are devoted to treating brain tumor patients with the most innovative technology available. These physicians are specialists in oncology, hematology, surgical oncology and radiation oncology and work together to provide a comprehensive approach to treating each patient’s specific situation.
What kind of research is UAB doing?
The Cancer Center continues to lead the country in innovative research on brain tumors. The center is one of only five institutions in the country to hold a SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) grant for brain cancer. These grants are incredibly prestigious and move research findings quickly and safely from the laboratory to the clinic. In 2012, UAB research effort on brain tumors was declared one of the top clinical research advances of the year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.