World Brain Tumor Day

World Brain Tumor Day

Since 2000, June 8th has been designated World Brain Tumor Day, to raise awareness and educate the public about brain tumors, and help improve funding for research and treatment of over 150 diseases of the central nervous system.

Tumors, or neoplasms, are uncontrolled growth of cells.

A primary tumor is the site where this uncontrolled growth started. Not all tumors are malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors lack the ability to invade neighboring tissue or migrate to other sites in the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, have this ability, and are dangerous because they can spread to other sites, making surgery and many other therapies impractical or less effective. Secondary tumors are sites where cells from the primary site have migrated and started new outgrowths (known as metastases).

In the brain, even benign tumors can be dangerous, because as a tumor grows, it displaces normal brain tissue, and can compress areas of the brain, affecting neurological function.

History of Brain Tumor Awareness Day

World Brain Tumor Day was organized in 2000 by the German Brain Tumor Association (Deutsche Hirntumorhilfe eingetragener Verein). The organization was founded in 1998 with the goal of supporting research to improve the care of brain tumor patients. Their moto is Knowledge creates the future.  (The motto in German, “Wissen schafft Zukunft, sounds to German ears very much like the two words, “science future.”) Future science is indeed what this society seeks for patients. The organization is based in Leipzig.

It is estimated that in the United States about 700,000 people are living with a primary brain tumor. Secondary brain tumors are four times as prevalent as primary tumors. In 2021, it is estimated that about 85,000 more will be diagnosed with brain tumors. Worldwide more than 500 patients are diagnosed with brain tumors every day.

Quick Facts about Brain Tumors

  • About 70% of brain tumors are benign
  • About 30% of brain tumors are malignant
  • About 58% of tumors occur in females and 42% in males.
  • Meningiomas are the most common non-malignant brain tumors (accounting for 54.5% of all benign and 38.3% of all brain tumors).
  • Glioblastoma is the most commonly occurring primary malignant brain tumor.
  • Survival rate varies with the type of tumor and age of the patient.
  • Risk factors include:
    • Family History (has a parent or sibling also had this type of brain tumor?)
    • High dose radiation/X-Rays
    • Age
  • Treatment depends on type, stage and includes surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of treatments.
  • The costs for treatment for brain tumors are some of the most expensive for any cancer group. The initial cost of care annually exceeds $150,000 per patient.

Quick Facts for Pediatric Population (0-19 years old):

  • About 6% of all brain tumors occur in this age group
  • These tumors are a leading cause cancer-related death in this group
  • The most common tumors are:
    • Pilocystic astrocytoma
    • Glioma, malignant
    • Embryonal tumors

Symptoms of Brain Tumor:

There are a myriad of possible symptoms, depending on location of the brain tumor.  Some of the common symptoms are:

  1. Severe persistent headache
    • Headache is a very general symptom, that has a broad differential, but it may be a sign of a brain tumor.
    • These headaches can be acute, or chronic and persistent. These headaches in general are worse early in the morning.
  2. Vomiting or nausea
    • Caused by pressure from the tumor. It is usually accompanied by headache as well.
  3. Seizures
    • Around 50% of patients with brain tumor may experience seizures.
    • Likelihood of seizure depends on tumor’s location.
  4. Behavioral changes
    • These may include emotional outbursts or minor memory loss.
  5. Blurry vision
  6. Impaired hearing
    • One-sided hearing loss, or ringing in the ears.
  7. Difficulty speaking including:
    • Difficulty forming clear words, or saying things that make very little sense
    • Inability to understand what others are saying
  8. Altered balance
  9. Difficulty walking
  10. Impaired sensation of touch

This article is intended for informational purposes only, and does not provide medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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